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CHURCH OF CHRIST

1223 E. DANA AVE. MESA, ARIZONA

A COMMENTARY

ON THE

New Testament Epistles

BY

DAVID LIPSCOMB

EDITED, WITH ADDITIONAL NOTES,

BY

J. W. SHEPHERD

VOLUME V

I, II Thessalonians, I, II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

COPYRIGHT BY GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

1942

COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS

INTRODUCTION

In presenting this commentary to the public, the editor does so fully conscious of the great weight of responsibility that rests upon him. As an author and editor it is not a new venture. He is the author of several books, all of which are meritorious and exceed- ingly helpful to the studious and ambitious servant of the Lord

, andespeciallysotothosewhoteachandpreachthegospel of Christ. His educational advantages and scholarly attainments make him well fitted to command the attenton of the intellectual reader. His deeply spiritual nature, coupled with a high sense of honesty and unquestioned integrity, will commend him to the honest searcher after truth. He has given his life to the study of the Bible, and his careful, painstaking methods of study have left nothing to specula- tion or guesswork. In his efforts to arrive at the truth he has studied carefully the setting, the circumstances, the people, their manners and customs, and the language of the text. He has com- pared translations, encyclopedic references, and commentaries. He has not done his work to establish or to support any theory of religious thought nor to propagate any personal or private opinion ,butsolelytofindthetruth:WhatdoesGodsay?

The basis of this commentary, of course, is the notes and obser- vations of the venerable and lamented David Lipscomb accumu- lated through the years while he was editing the Gospel Advo- cate. These writings were placed in the hands of J. W. Shepherd to be edited and published by him. To those who knew David Lipscomb, these writings breathe the atmosphere of honesty and truth as he saw it. His rugged honesty and sincerity, coupled with loyalty and devotion to truth, as also his firmness and humility

, andhisdeepandprofoundreverenceforthewordofGod, made him a safe and trustworthy exponent of the Bible. He was big enough and humble enough to say, "I don't know, " and would not venture to speculate on untaught things in the Book of God. In the early days of the Nashville Bible School, now David Lipscomb College, have I heard him say in answer to some question referring to an obscure passage of Scripture: "Well, I don't know." He did not presume to speak where God had not clearly revealed his will. In this work the editor has interposed notes and comments of his own in addition to those of D. Lipscomb, but has been careful

6 INTRODUCTION

to keep them separate, setting his notes, etc., off in brackets [like this], and thus there is no danger of confusion or commingling of ideas. He has faithfully kept a distinction between Shepherd and Lipscomb. In giving this series of commentaries on the Epistles of the apos- tle Paul, the editor has made a very valuable contribution to reli- gious instruction; for, to my mind, there has been no safer teacher of the Bible than David Lipscomb. I believe he had a deeper in- sight to the meaning and sense of the Scriptures than any other man since the days of Alexander Campbell, if not from the days of the apostle Paul. In many ways I consider him greater than Campbell. I commend this volume to those who look for truth and want to know and do God's will, and hope for it a place in the home of every lover of God and truth.

I. B. BRADLEY

Dickson, Tennessee, January 20, 1942.

CONTENTS

 

Page

INTRODUCTION

9

SECTION ONE

PAUL'S PAST AND PRESENT RELATIONS WITH THE THESSALONIANS AND HIS LOVE FOR THEM (1:1 to 3:13) . 13

1. The salutation and greeting (1:1) 13

2. Thanksgiving for their reception of the gospel and his love for them (1:2-10) 16

3. He reminds them of the character of his life and ministry among

(2:1-12) 23

4. The sufferings of the Thessalonians the same as those endured by their Jewish brethren (2:13-16) 30

5. Paul's effort to see them (2:17-20) 34

them

6. He sends Timothy to learn the state of the Thessalonian church

(3:1-10)

36

7. Prayer for the Thessalonians (3:11-13) 42

SECTION TWO

EXHORTATIONS AGAINST VICE, AND COMFORT AND

WARNINGS IN VIEW OF THE COMING OF CHRIST (4:

1

to

5:28)

44

1. Warnings against impurity (4:1-8) 44

2. Exhortation to brotherly love and sobriety of conduct (4:9-12) 49

3. Concerning those who have fallen asleep (4:13-18) 53

4. Concerning the true ways to watch for the coming of the Lord

(5:1-11)

62

5. Exhortation to orderly living and due performance of social and spiritual duties (5:12-22) 68

6. The apostle's prayer for the Thessalonians (5:23, 24) 74

7. Personal injunctions and benediction (5:25-28) 76

APPENDIX 305

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST THESSA- LONIAN EPISTLE

I. THESSALONICA

Thessalonica is now known as Salonika, and is situated at the head of the Thermiac Gulf, which deeply indents the Macedonian shore, and it covers the irregular slope which runs, not very steeply, from the water's edge to the crest of the hill, which forms a semicircular barrier round the upper extremity of the gulf. With a rich district in the rear and the open sea in the front, the city rapidly became one of the most important Mediterranean ports, its position being at once suitable for commerce and capable of defense. The prosperity of the city justifies the wisdom of its founders. When the Romans divided Macedonia into four govern- ments, Thessalonica was made the chief city of the second prov- ince, and ultimately became the metropolis of the whole. At the time of Paul's visit it enjoyed the rights of a free city, being gov- erned by seven polytarchs, who, though responsible to the Roman proconsul, were elected by the citizens themselves. Into this important city Paul came over the great Roman road

, whichconnectedtheregionnorthoftheAegeanSeawithRome. The First Epistle gives evidence (2:9) that he readily found em- ployment, and felt himself at home among the workingmen and tradespeople of the city. This coincides with the fact that one of the staple manufactures of the city was goat's-hair cloth. The sound that follows the ear as one walks through Salonika today is the straining vibration of the loom and pendulumlike click of the regular and ceaseless shuttle. Another allusion (1:8) reminds us that not only must such a city have had special attraction for Paul as likely to give a favor- able hearing to the gospel message, but that its commercial and seafaring population would rapidly spread what they themselves might receive. Every ship that left the harbor, and every wagon that turned inland, carried some account of the riot at Thessalonica and the extraordinary man who had been the occasion of it. But though in such a short time Paul planted here the second church that rose on the European continent, those on whose aid he might naturally have counted, his own countrymen, made it so dangerous

10 INTRODUCTION

for him and Silas to remain that the brethren sent them by night to Berea. (Acts 17:10.) Although, therefore, the population was largely Jewish, the Epistle bears evidence of being written to a church composed al- most entirely of Gentile Christians. (2:14.) There are no allu- sions to the tenets of Judaism or to the facts of Jewish history, nor are there any references to the Old Testament either in the way of illustration or• of proof. The account Paul gives of preaching among them (1:9, 10) precisely tallies with the report of his ad- dress given to the Athenians (Acts 17:22, 23), and shows that in introducing the gospel to the Gentiles, he was at that time accus- tomed to announce the coming of the judgment, to proclaim Jesus as raised from the dead, to judge the world, and the Saviour of all who believed him.

II. THE OCCASION AND OBJECT OF THE EPISTLE We are now prepared to consider the circumstances of the church at Thessalonica which drew forth this letter. Paul had twice attempted to revisit Thessalonica and had both times been disappointed. Thus prevented from seeing them in person, he had sent Timothy to inquire and report to him as to their condition. (3:1-5.) Timothy had returned with most favorable tidings, re- porting not only their progress in the faith and practice, but also their strong attachment to Paul. (3:6-12.) And this Epistle is the outpouring of his gratitude on receiving this gratifying news. At the same time, Timothy's report was not unmixed with sor- row. There were certain features in their condition which called for Paul's interference: (1) The very intensity of their faith in Christ, dwelling too exclusively on the day of the Lord's coming

, had been attended with evil consequences. On the one hand, a practical inconvenience had arisen. In their feverish expectation of his coming, some had been led to neglect their ordinary respon- sibilities as if the daily duties of life were of no account in the im- mediate presence of so vast a change. (4:11; 2 Thess. 2:1, 3, 6, 11, 12.) On the other hand, a theoretical difficulty had arisen. Certain members of the church had died, and there was great anxi- ety lest they should be excluded from any share in the glories of the Lord's coming. (4:13-18.) Paul rebukes the irregularity of the former and drives away fears of the latter. (2) Persecution had broken out, and the Thessalonians needed consolation and en-

INTRODUCTION 11

couragement under their sore trial. (2:14; 3:2-4.) (3) An un- healthy feeling with regard to spiritual gifts was manifesting itself. They needed to be reminded of the superior value of prophesying --teaching--compared with other gifts of the Spirit which they ex- alted at its expense. (5:19, 20.) (4) There was danger of relaps- ing into their old heathen habits of profligacy. Against this Paul offers words in season. (4:4-8.) Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the condition of the Thes- salonian church was satisfactory, and most cordial relations existed between Paul and his converts. This honorable distinction it shares with the Philippian church. At all times, and amid every change of circumstance, it is to the Macedonian churches that Paul turns for sympathy and support.

III. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING

Paul, accompanied by Silvanus, came to Berea, and soon there- after was joined by Timothy. Thence, Paul and Timothy pro- ceeded to Athens, leaving Silvanus at Berea. Timothy was most likely sent back from Athens to Thessalonica to strengthen and en- courage the church there. At Athens Paul intended to remain until the arrival of his fellow helpers, for he had sent "a command- ment unto Silas and Timothy that they should come to him with all speed." (Acts 17:15.) It seems, however, that he left Athens without them, for unforeseen circumstances had prevented them from complying with his request, and they did not join him until after his arrival in Corinth. Inasmuch as Paul joins the names of Silvanus and Timothy in the address of the Epistle, it is evident that it was not written until after their arrival. Some time also must have elapsed between the establishment of the church in Thessalonica and the writing of the Epistle. Paul had twice at- tempted to visit them and failed (2:7, 8), Timothy had been sent by Paul to Thessalonica and had returned from his mission and re- ported that the faith of the Thessalonians had been spread abroad throughout Macedonia and Achaia (1:7, 8). The interval, how- ever, could not have been long. Timothy returned at the begin- ning of Paul's residence at Corinth, and Paul's anxiety for the Thessalonians induced him to write the Epistle immediately on re- ceiving the information given by Timothy. He speaks of his ab- sence from them as lasting only a short time. (2:17.) We may,

12 INTRODUCTION

therefore, fix the time of writing the Epistle toward the close of A.D. 52 or the beginning of 53 and during the early part of Paul's residence at Corinth, possibly six months after planting the church at Thessalonica.

COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS

SECTION ONE

PAUL'S PAST AND PRESENT RELATIONS WITH THE THESSALONIANS AND HIS LOVE FOR THEM 1:1 to 3:13

1. THE SALUTATION AND GREETING

1:1

1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

1 Paul,--There was no need to add "apostle" to the name of Paul in writing to a church with which his relations were so familiar and cordial. and Silvanus,--Silvanus is the Silas of Acts of Apostles. Paul first met him when he went to Jerusalem from Antioch to seek a settlement of the question of circumcising the Gen- tile Christians. He was sent with Paul to communicate the decision of the apostles and elders. (Acts 15:19, 25, 29.) When Paul declined to take John Mark with him on his sec- ond missionary journey, and parted with Barnabas, he chose Silas as his companion, and the two were beaten and impris- oned together at Philippi. (Acts 16:19-29.) He was with Paul during the riot at Thessalonica (17:4), and was sent away with him to Berea, remaining there after Paul had been obliged to depart, and joined him again in Corinth (18:5). In that city he was an esteemed coworker with Paul. (2 Cor.

1:19.)

and Timothy,--Timothy was the well-known companion and assistant of Paul. The terms which he applies to him --"my beloved and faithful child in the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:17)

,"mytruechildinfaith"(1Tim.1:2)--indicatenotonly

Paul's love for him, but also that he had been the means of his conversion. At any rate, it is clear that, when on his first missionary journey, Paul visited Lystra, and Timothy's mother and grandmother were led to Christ, and that Timo-

14 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:1.

thy was then old enough to be instructed in the way of the Lord. He became a disciple of Christ and a companion of Paul. He was gifted of the Spirit. (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1 :6.) When these and other teachers were with Paul, he usu- ally associated them with himself in writing to the churches. They were both with him when the work of the Lord was begun in Thessalonica. unto the church of the Thessalonians--This is the local de- scription. The only New Testament parallel is "the church of the Laodiceans." (Col. 4:16.) in--[This word is frequently used by Paul to express inti- macy of union, and is not readily explained by any simpler term. Here it introduces the spiritual relation and may be paraphrased thus: in relationship with God as Father and with Jesus Christ as Lord.] They were baptized "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Hence, were in these divine persons. God the Father--[God's everlasting power and divinity is manifest in creation (Rom. 1:20); his Fatherhood is subject of revelation (Matt. 11:27 , John 17:25); it is not universal (Matt. 13:38 , John 8:23-44); but is asserted only in relation to those who have been born anew (John 1:12, 13; Gal. 3:26 ; 1 John 3:1; 5:1). Being our Father God looks to his chil- dren for honor (Mal. 1:6) and confidence (Matt. 6:25, 34)

, whilehedealswiththeminpity(Psalm103:13, 14) andin love (John 16:27).] and the Lord--[Christ himself assumed this title. (Matt. 7:21, 22; 9:38.) His purpose did not become clear to the dis- ciples until after his resurrection from the dead, and the reve- lation of his deity consequent therein. Thomas, when he real- ized the significance of the presence of a mortal wound in the body of a living man, immediately joined with it the absolute title of Deity, saying: "My Lord and my God." (John 20 28.) In Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost he said, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye cru- cified" (Acts 2:36); and in the house of Cornelius he said

, "HeisLordofall"(10:36). AndJudespeaksofsome"de-

1:1.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 15

flying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, " and in the next verse applies the term Lord to God. (Jude 4, 5.) The title Lord as given to the Savior in its full significance rests upon the resurrection (Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9; 14:9), and is realized only "in the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3). While he is still rejected alike by Jew and Gentile, angels (Matt. 28:6) and saints (Rom. 10:9) acknowledge him in it, but in the day of his manifested glory every tongue in the universe shall "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11). Those who acknowledge him as Lord now are his servants. (Eph. 6:6, 7), and to them he looks for obedience (Luke 6:46; Rom. 6:16), and on that condition graciously admits them to his friendship (John 15:14, 15).] Jesus--[This name was given to the Son of God while he dwelt on earth in the flesh as his personal name in obedience to the command of the angel to Joseph, the husband of his mother, Mary, shortly before he was born. (Matt. 1:21.) By this name he was generally known throughout the gospel nar- rative. While he was on earth in the flesh, no one of his disci- ples is recorded as having addressed him by his personal name; but it is plain that the custom was common among be- lievers in the apostolic age that they confessed with the "mouth Jesus as Lord" (Rom. 10:9), and it is, therefore, the pattern for Christians till time shall cease.] Christ:--[In the Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude

, menwhohadcompaniedwiththeLordinthedaysofhis flesh, Jesus Christ is the invariable form of the name and title

, fortheythiswasknewtheorderJesusoftheirexperience;as him first, that he was the Messiah they learned finally in his resurrection. But Paul came to know him first in the glory of heaven (Acts 9:1-6), and his experience being thus the re- verse of theirs, the reverse order, Christ Jesus. In Paul's Epis- tles the order is in harmony with the context. Thus Christ Jesus describes the exalted one who emptied himself (Phil. 2 :5-7) and testifies of his pre-existence; Jesus Christ describes the despised and rejected one who was afterwards glorified (Phil. 2:11) and testifies to his resurrection. Christ Jesus suggests his grace; Jesus Christ his glory.]

16 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:1-3.

Grace to you and peace.--Paul's usual salutation is ex- tended to them. Grace properly means favor and includes those blessings that are applicable to Christians in common , denotinganardentprayerthatall themerciesandfavorsof God for time and eternity might be conferred upon them.

2. THANKSGIVING FOR THEIR RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL AND HIS LOVE FOR THEM

1:2-10.

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of

2 We give thanks to God always--Paul knew the facts con-

cerning their conversion and the trials which they endured under the fierce persecutions through which they passed. for you all,--There was not one of them that he knew for whom he did not give thanks. The whole church was what it should be. making mention of you in our prayers;--He made special mention of them in asking God's help and blessing to rest upon them. The number of persons and churches Paul men- tions in his prayers is remarkable. It shows how much Paul regarded special and direct prayers for persons.

3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith--He had

seen its manifestation when among them and remembered it. The work of faith was the work and consecration to which faith led them in their work of service to the Lord under the

fierce persecutions to which they had been subjected. [Faith is the response of the soul to the life-giving word of God (Rom. 10:8-17), producing a change of life and a cheerful courage under trial.]

and labor of love--The labor and fatiguing toil to which they were led by their love to God and to their brethren. This love had been manifested by the untiring and devoted toils which they had undergone to help their brethren in dis- tress. Love makes us willing to labor and suffer for those we love. [Love to God is expressed in obedience (John 14:15 , 21, 23);tomaninconsideringtheinterestofothersrather than our own (Phil. 2:4).]

1:3-5.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 17

loveand1patienceof hopeinourLordJesusChrist, before2ourGodand Father; 4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election, 5 3how that our 4gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy

stedfastness1Or,

GodandourFather2Or,

because3Or,ourgospel&c. and4Gr.goodsoelsewhere;tidings;seemarginal noteonMt. 4. 23

and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,--Hope of fu- ture blessings and joy led them to bear with patience the ills brought upon them. [The word patience is frequently used by Paul. It is fortitude in suffering, endurance in toil or trial. Rightly to suffer is harder than rightly to work. The perse- cutions to which the Thessalonian Christians had been and were still exposed gave large room for the exercise of stead- fastness.] before our God and Father;--God looks upon us and will reward and bless us for our endurance for his sake. [It was a hope which they had through the merits of the Redeemer and which they were permitted to cherish before God; that is, as in his very presence. When they thought of God, when they remembered that they were soon to stand before him, they were permitted to cherish this hope. It was a hope which would be found to be genuine even in the presence of a holy and heart-searching God.] 4 knowing, brethren beloved of God,--They knew that God had accepted them--the Gentiles--in Christ so could fully realize that they were under his care and supervision. your election,--All who believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ are the elected of God. This applies especially to the Gentiles who believed in him. The Jews had been the elect or chosen of God. Now the Gentiles who believed in Christ were elect. They knew that God had accepted them in Christ so could fully realize that they were under his care and super- vision. Their election was their acceptance in Jesus when they believed and obeyed him. 5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power,--Paul calls it "our gospel" because it was the gospel which they preached. He did not mean that the gospel had been originated by them, but only that they delivered the good news of salvation unto them. [It did not come to them

18 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:5, 6.

Spirit, and in much 5assurance; even ye knowwhat manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake. 6 And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of

5Or, fulness

in word only, for it was conveyed in human speech, even though not in enticing words of man's wisdom, but it passed beyond the word. It did not merely sound in the ear or touch the understanding, but it came in power on the part of the preachers with an overwhelming force and persuasiveness so that their "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:5)] and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance;--The pres- ence of the Holy Spirit gave them much assurance, and they preached with a conscious conviction of the truth of their message. This conviction of its truth on their part added to the momentum with which it penetrated the hearts of their hearers and wrought in them a full assurance of its truth. even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.--Neither Paul nor his associates sought any selfish end or purpose, but conducted themselves in the most unselfish manner, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, so far as practical, that they might set before them the true example to be followed. 6 And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord,--By be- coming imitators of Paul and of his fellow laborers, they be- came imitators of the Lord. Paul said: "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1.) The point of imitation did not consist in their cordial reception of the gos- pel, for that could not apply to Christ; but in their joyful en- durance of suffering. The force of the word is that what they became at conversion must be diligently continued thereafter. having received the word in much affliction,--Luke tells us that when they first heard the gospel Paul and his fellow workers went into the synagogue, "and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the scriptures, opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom, said he, I proclaim unto you, is the Christ. And some of them were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a

1:6.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 19

great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews, being moved with jealousy, took unto them certain vile fellows of the rabble, and gathering a crowd, set the city on an uproar; and assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to

bring them forth to the people. And when they found them not, they dragged Jason and certain brethren before the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside

And they troubled the multi-

tude and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things." (Acts 17:2-8.) It was under affliction like this that the Thes- salonians received the gospel. with joy of the Holy Spirit;--The preaching was the result of the Holy Spirit directing and guiding in the work. The Spirit dwells in the word of God as the principle of life dwells in the seed. Jesus said: "It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life." (John 6:63.) "The seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11.) Paul says: "The Spirit giveth life." (2 Cor. 3:6.) The Spirit gives life through the word. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit in the apostles spoke to the people and gave them life. The Spirit is the representative of the Godhead who imparts life. The Spirit appeared miraculously in the beginning of the human race and imparted life to the body of Adam; he then gave laws to perpetuate this life to Adam's descendants as much as he gave life to Adam in the beginning. Just so the Holy Spirit gave life miraculousy on the day of Pentecost, and since has imparted life through the word of God which is the seed of the kingdom. This is the very point of likeness between the natural and spiritual laws according to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Peter said: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38.) The Spirit is in the seed, the word. He goes with the word into the heart, but de- velops into the distinct and active life only at birth. The same process that brings a Man into Christ fits him to enjoy the blessings that dwell in Christ. [So the consolations which they received, in consequence of hearing and obeying the word of God, delivered unto them through Paul, more than

down are come hither

20 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:6-8.

the Holy Spirit; 7 so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Mac- edonia and in Achaia. 8 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. 9 For they

counterbalanced all the afflictions which they suffered from their persecutors.] 7 so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Mace- donia and in Achaia.--The Thessalonians followed these teachings with such faithfulness that they became an ensam- ple to others. At the time this Epistle was written Greece was divided into the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia. Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia and Corinth of Achaia. 8 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord , not only in Macedonia and Achaia,--It was sounded by living men and women in their daily conduct. It seems that Paul had in mind the influence of their heroic endurance of the per- secutions and spiritual prosperity, and of the missionary la- bors of evangelists sent out by them. but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth

;--Thisstrikinglydescribesthereportthatspreadfarandwide from Thessalonica, and the story of what had taken place among them prepared the way for the reception of the gospel in other places. The loudest, clearest, most eloquent, and most unanswerable proclamation of the gospel is the uncon- scious testimony of Christian living. It may be sounded forth in great power in the midst of the severest afflictions--and often is. The troubles they endured for the name of Christ tested and revealed their faith, and so led to the fuller proc- lamation of the gospel. [The lesson that we should learn from the zeal of the early Christians is that success in the service of the Lord is to be accomplished only through the spirit of self-denying labor and devotion. At the present time the great need is men of zeal --self-denying zeal and earnestness--who are willing to sur- render all worldly honor, wealth, and fame to work for God and the salvation of lost and ruined men; not simply to revive religion, but to restore in its divine simplicity and power the true faith and works of the church of God as he himself or-

1:8, 9.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 21

themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God,

dained them. God intends his message to be conveyed to men only through those Christlike enough to deny self to carry it to their dying fellow men. God demands these sacrifices, not of the preacher alone, but of everyone who would serve him.] so that we need not to speak anything.--Their faith cer- tainly had the solid stamp of reality, for otherwise it would never have produced such a widespread notoriety. [By the going of the report of their faith great service was done. In preaching the gospel in new places it was Paul's custom to hold up what it had done for other places. With regard to Thessalonica, he was placed in an exceptional position. In Berea, in Athens, in Corinth, or wherever he went, he needed not to labor to create an impression of what the gospel had done for Thessalonica. He needed not to say anything for the work was already done for him.] 9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols,--The facts concerning the conversion of the Thes- salonians were well known throughout the regions in which he traveled. They were acquainted not only with the fact that Paul had preached in Thessalonica, but also with the re- sults of his preaching. The results had been greater among the Gentiles than among the Jewish population. Luke says "Some of them were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." (Acts 17:4.) They were to turn to God from whatever kept them from him, to turn because they believed in him and loved him, and meant to listen, study, and obey him in conversion. Conversion implies faith in God through Christ, and repentance is turning away from sin. The intention with which they turned to God is described, in which the two grand features of the Christian life are signal- ized. to serve--To serve God is a comprehensive expression in- cluding the various thoughts, feelings, and acts whereby a godly person seeks to please God.

22

COMMENTARY ON [1:9, 10.

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come.

a living and true God,--The God to whom they had now turned is living and real. Jesus said: "And this is life eternal ,thattheyshouldknowtheetheonlytrueGod,andhimwhom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." (John 17:3.) True means real, genuine, as opposed to that which is pretended

, whichhasnoreal existence.

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven,--The second com- ing of the Lord Jesus Christ was an element in Paul's teach- ing which made a very deep impression on the Thessalonian believers; it was to them a great object of Christian hope. They not only believed he would come again; they were eager for his coming. They, in their suffering and distress, like the apostle John, were ever ready to say: "Amen: come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20.) It is a matter of fact that hope in this sense does not hold its ancient place in the hearts of many professed Christians of today. So far from being a power of God in the soul, a victorious grace, it is a sure token that God is absent. Instead of inspiring, it discourages; it leads to numberless self-deceptions , men hope their lives are right with God when they ought to search them and see. This , when our relations to God are concerned, is a degradation of the very word. The Christian hope is laid up in heaven. The object is the Lord Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:1.) It is not precarious ,butcertain;itisnotineffective,butagreatandenergetic power. Anything else is not hope at all. The operation of true hope is manifold. It is a sanctifying grace, for "every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:3.) whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus,--The apostle connects the raising of Jesus from the dead with the deliver- ance of the Christian from the wrath to come. A destruction awaits all sinners before God. [This is the fact, which, when they came to understand it, brought Peter and the other disci- ples into a new life of hope, for he says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrec- tion of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Pet. 1:3.) This fact,

1:10 to 2:2.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 23

when he came to know it, changed the life of Saul the perse- cutor into the bond servant of Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:1-9; 1 Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:16.) That the historic fact--"Jesus Christ risen from the dead" (2 Tim. 2:8)--is the complete vindica- tion of the truth of the gospel is declared by the Lord himself "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46, 47.) who delivereth us from the wrath to come.--Jesus came to save his people from their sins, that they might be delivered from the wrath of God against all sin and ungodliness. This freeing from sins and the consequent deliverance from the wrath by Jesus Christ is the good news that was sounded out from Thessalonica to all places around.

3. HE REMINDS THEM OF THE CHARACTER OF HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY AMONG THEM

2:142.

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain: 2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated

, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxedboldinour Godto speakunto youthe 1gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor

1Gr.

good tidings: and so elsewhere; see marginal note on Mt. 4. 23

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you

,--Paul's purpose in these words was to stir up their minds

with stirring memories of their conversion. Not only did strangers report the power and efficacy of their preaching among them, but they themselves were experimentally ac- quainted with its effects on their own hearts and lives. that it hath not been found vain:--It was not fruitless or without permanent results. [On the contrary, it was mighty ,energetic,andpowerful.]

2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as

ye know, at Philippi,--They came to Thessalonica from Phi- lippi, where Paul and Silas had been publicly scourged with rods and cast into prison and their feet made fast in stocks. (Acts 16:22-24.) Their treatment had been unlawful and

brutal.

24 COMMENTARY

ON

[2:2-4.

of uncleanness, nor in guile:4 but even as we have been approved of God to

we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict. --But notwithstanding the injury and violence they had suffered, they were bold in the strength and power to preach unto them. [Disregarding the sufferings they had had to endure after preaching at Philippi, God had given them courage to resume his work at Thessalonica.] 3 For our exhortation--His exhortation to turn to God was not a desire to lead them into error for selfish purposes. [The word exhortation has a twofold signification, denoting both exhortation and consolation; when it refers to moral conduct , it denotes exhortation; but when it is an address to a sufferer ,itdenotesconsolation.Inthegospelthesetwomeaningsare blended together.] is not of error,--Without any direct evil intent to lead them into error for selfish ends. nor of uncleanness,--Not from a desire to gratify lusts, as was so often the case with idol worshippers. [This also refers to false teachers, which are described thus: "For, uttering great swelling words of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who are just escaping from them that live in error; promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bond- age." (2 Pet. 2:1 8, 19.) Both in Corinth and in Thessalo- nica gross vice was consecrated to religion.] nor in guile:--[The preceding words deny a wrong motive ; this denies a wrong method. Not only were their motives sin- cere and pure, but their manner of dealing was straightfor- ward, with no ends to serve for the attainment of which they needed to use deceit, for as Paul says: "For we are not as the many, corrupting the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ" (2 Cor. 2 :17), and "but we have renounced the hidden things of shame , not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God de- ceitfully" (2 Cor. 4:2). This verse treats Paul's ministry negatively as to its truthfulness, its motives, and its methods.] 4 but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak;--Of his preparation for this mo-

2:4.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 25

be intrusted with the 1gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God

mentous work it is said that after his baptism "he was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus. And straight- way in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that he is the Son of God." (Acts 9:19-20.) After this it was ten years before Barnabas came to him in Tarsus to find a fellow worker and to introduce him into a wider sphere of service. (Acts 11:25 , 26.) [Up to this time he had visited Arabia, returned to Da- mascus, and thence after three years went to Jerusalem , wherehewaswiththedisciples"goinginandgoingout preaching boldly in the name of the Lord: and he spake and disputed against the Grecian Jews; but they were seeking to kill him. And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus." (Acts 9 :28-30.) Of his residence in Tarsus nothing is revealed, but he had commended himself and had become so widely known that Barnabas sought his assistance at a critical stage of the important work at Antioch. (Acts 11:25.) This was a pe- riod of testing, but his days of probation were not yet fulfilled. Three years more of new and varied experiences had to pass before he was definitely called by the Holy Spirit and sepa- rated by his brethren to the work among the Gentiles, for which God had set him apart, and concerning which the Lord Jesus had spoken to him on the Damascus road some fourteen years before, saying: "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I ap- peared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things where in thou bast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive re- mission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanc- tified by faith in me." (Acts 26:15-18.) not as pleasing men,--He had been faithful to preach the gospel, but not to please and make himself popular with men. [The desire to be pleasing to men is to use them for one's own exaltation, to make them the steppingstones on which he seeks to rise to eminence. To put oneself in that relation to

26 COMMENTARY

ON

[2:4.

who proveth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time were we found using

others is an ungodly thing. Such men give ground to slander , andbringreproachonthecauseofChrist. Truedevotionto God is love, the nature of which is not to take, but to give.] but God--His purpose was to please God who had en- trusted him with the gospel of his Son, which is to save all men from sin and suffering. who proveth our hearts.--God proves and test the heart. He accepts no service save as it comes from the heart. He contrasts the service which comes from the heart with that which is to gratify the flesh. The fleshly heart is the center and active force in stirring and using all the faculties of the fleshly body. Without the activity of the heart, the eyes could not see, nor the ears hear, nor the brain think. The eye is not the body or the fleshly heart, yet it is a faculty of both

, soareall thesensesandorgansofthebody. Withinthe fleshly body dwells the spiritual body. That body has facul- ties, members, and organs; only they are spiritual faculties and organs. The mind, the emotions, the volitions are all members or organs of the spiritual body, but no one of them is the body. The spiritual heart is the center and the life of this spiritual body and directs and uses these faculties. The heart is frequently used to represent the whole inner or spiri- tual man. It thinks through the mind; loves or hates through its emotions; sees, wills, and purposes through the volition; and believes and trusts, decides and acts, through the harmo- nious action of all its faculties. Common experience ought to show that the mind alone is not the heart. Many things are memorized and retained in the mind, of which the heart does not take hold at all; they do not arouse the emotions or voli- tions, consequently do not affect the heart. The mind per- ceives, discriminates, and decides what is true or false; carries this decision to the heart; and the heart believes or disbe- lieves. The Bible nowhere says the mind believes; the heart believes and the scriptures require that the gospel shall be believed with the whole heart. The intellect approves, the emotions lay hold of the truth, and the volition, or the will

, actsonit. [God, whoatfirstapprovedofPaul asfitforthe

2:4-8.] FIRST THESSALONIANS

27

words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness

; 6 nor seeking glory of men, neither fromyounor fromothers, whenwe

might have 2claimed authority as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were 3gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children: 8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto

2Or, been burdensome ver. 9; comp. 1 Cor. 9:4 if. 3Most of the ancient authorities read babes. Comp. 1 Cor. 14. 20

work among the Gentiles, continued to approve him through- out the whole of his discharge of its functions.]

5 For neither at any time were we found using words of

flattery, as ye know,--He did not flatter his hearers and did not seek popularity of them. Jesus said: "How can ye be- lieve, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?" (John 5:44.) Paul was always true to that truth, and never sought honor of men.

nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness;--Neither did he make his preaching a cloak to make gain. He appealed to them because his course had been so decided in that respect that they could not mistake it. [This passage exhibits to us ,inthechargesbroughtagainstPaul,thoseviceswhicheven bad men can see to be wholly inconsistent with the Christian character. No matter how we cloak it--and we always cloak it in one way or another--it is incurably unchristian.]

6 nor seeking glory of men.--He did not seek a high and

honorable position in the midst of these nor yet of others. So guarded was he in this matter that he did not even use the power he might have to be supported as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Jesus, in sending out his apostles, told them to carry nothing with them, that "the laborer is worthy of his hire."

(Luke 10:7.) neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.--He did not use this right to live of the gospel lest he should be burdensome to them as an apostle of Christ.

7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse

cherisheth her own children:--He nourished and cared for them instead of allowing them to support him. [Paul felt for them the affectionate solicitude which a mother does for a

child at her breast.]

8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well

pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but

28 COMMENTARY

ON

[2:8-10.

you, not the 1gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and tra- vail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the 1gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also howholily , andrighteously andunblamably we behavedourselves towardyou

also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us. --He was moved by a sincere love for them instead of making gain of them; he was willing not only to impart unto them the gospel of Christ, but his own soul. This is a similar expres- sion to what he said of his own Jewish people: "I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Rom. 9:3.) These are strong expressions, showing the intense desire he had for their salvation. [Such labor as Paul's in and for the church was really an impartation of his life. Health and en- ergy and life were given out constantly in his preaching and sufferings from persecution, along with exhausting manual labor night and day.] 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: work- ing night and day, that we might not burden any of you ,--Thesewordsareintendedtobringoutstronglytheveryhard and exhausting labor in which Paul was involved by his desire to support himself while ministering the gospel to them. This he did lest they should suspect him of selfish motive so that the gospel would be hindered. He would not have re- fused to receive their help after their conversion to help him preach the gospel to others. we preached unto you the gospel of God.--It was the gospel of God inasmuch as it came as a glad message from God. They looked to God as their God, who had commissioned them to deliver his message. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also,--They were the wit- nesses of his outward conduct, and God of the motives which actuated him in the service he rendered. how holily--This denotes his pious disposition and conduct toward God.

and righteously--This denotes his conduct toward his fel- low men. How just and fair in all his dealings with them. and unblamably--This expresses the negative side of both particulars. He was cautious and extremely careful to give

2:10, 11.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 29

that believe:11 as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, 12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who 4calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.

'Some ancient authorities read called

no cause or ground of blame to anyone. [That no charge could be maintained, whatever charges might be made.] we behaved ourselves toward you that believe:--His life was holy, consecrated to God, just and fair to all men. [We should ever remember that utmost fidelity in word and deed is due to believers, as well as to unbelievers. Our example is potent for good or evil in the church as well as out of it.] 11 as ye know how we dealt with each one of you,--He par- ticularizes the carefulness he had shown for individuals. He dealt with each one, exhorting them to follow the better way ,comfortingthemintheirtrialsandtroubles.[Thisshows that the success of the apostles was not easily won, that con- verts were not made in masses, but by the slow, toilsome af- fectionate application of the gospel to individuals, one by one. Without this personal and individual dealing, the public preaching is not so effective.] as a father with his own children,--When they failed he en- couraged them to try again, and warned them of the danger of turning aside as a father does his own children. exhorting you,--[The father should not merely tell his chil- dren their duty but also to exhort them warmly to duty, espe- cially from his own experiences in life. So it is the part of the minister of the word of truth not only to hold up scripture teaching, but also, fatherly, warmly to urge its observance.] and encouraging you,--It is also the part of a father to hold out encouragement to the performance of duty. Nothing can be more fatal to the young than a discouraging tone. [It is the part of a worker in the Lord's vineyard not to be harsh ,censorious,despondent,butfatherliketocatchagenialityand hopefulness from his message, and may be said to have come from the Fatherhood of God.] and testifying,--[There are times when a father addresses his children as with a dying breath, conjures them by all that he holds dear and sacred by a consideration of their best inter- ests, not to give way to temptation, but to follow in the path

30 COMMENTARY ON [2:11-13.

of duty. There are times when it becomes necessary for the Lord's servant to concentrate his earnestness, and to address his brethren as with a dying breath, conjuring them by the authority of God, by the blood of Christ, by the dreadful is- sues at stake, by the solemnity of the judgment not to allow themselves to be cheated out of eternal life in the presence of God and the redeemed.]

12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God,--[This

was the object of the exhortations. Men can profess to accept God's calling and yet live very much as they had done before ; hence, theyneededtobetoldtowalkworthilyof God. Andit is a consideration which helps those who are seeking godli- ness that God has associated them with himself. As men are helped by their position to live up to it, and as children natu- rally strive to be worthy of their parents; so those who know God and are connected with him are stimulated to higher ef-

forts.] who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.--God had called them out of the world, freed them from sin, and trans- lated them into his own kingdom that through fidelity to him in that kingdom they should come to partake of his glory.

4. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE THESSALONIANS THE SAME AS THOSE ENDURED BY THEIR JEWISH BRETHREN

2:13-16

13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received fromus 5the word of the message,evenoftheword God, ye ac- cepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God,

5Gr. the word of hearing. Gal. 3. 2, 5

13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing

,--Here Paul falls back into the thankful strain with which he began the Epistle. The very words, "we give thanks to God always for you all" (1:2), is caught up. Having given out his strength in preaching them, he had unceasing cause of thanks- giving to God in the result.

that, when ye received from us the word of the message,--- In setting forth the result, the word is described from the point of view of the Thessalonians in relation to the message which he delivered to them.

2:13.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 31

which also worketh in you that believe. 14 For ye, brethren, became imita- tors of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also

even the word of God,--They did not receive his teaching as that of a man without authority, but they received it, as it was in truth, the word of the living God. ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth

, thewordofGod,--AtruthacceptedasthewordofGodhas

much more power than the same thing would have if believed to be only as the word of men; but they had accepted it, ap- propriating it to the life, not as originating with man, but with God. The word of God works effectually in all that be- lieve; that is, it brings those who believe it truly into obedience to the word of God. It is an evil heart of unbelief that causes men to turn from God's law and to substitute the ways of men for the appointments of God. Keeping the appointments of God and obeying his law is the test of faith in God. Only faith that works benefits. "For in Christ Jesus neither cir- cumcision availeth anything; nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love." (Gal. 5:6.) "Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself." "Was not Abraham our father

justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect." (James 2:17, 21, 22.) Faith working in the heart produces love. "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father

, andheshall giveyouanotherComforter, that hemaybewith

you for ever." (John 14:15, 16.) which also--This marks the contrast between those who merely heard the gospel and those who hearing believed. Many had received the gospel with the ear, some had accepted it in the heart; in these its claim to be from God was vindi- cated by its active power in their lives. (Heb. 4:12.) worketh in you that believe.--The word of God is described as "living and active"; by it the new birth is effected (1 Pet. 1:23); the soul saved (James 1:21), sanctified (John 17:17 ; 1 Tim. 4:5), and edified (Acts 20:32). It bears fruit and in- creases throughout the world and grows and prevails might- ily. (Acts 19:20.) Like the seed (Mark 4:26, 27), the word of God bears its life power within itself, hence its manifold ac-

32 COMMENTARY ON [2:13, 14.

suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews; 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us,

tivities and its boundless increase. It is compared with fire against that which is false and with a hammer against that which is strong (Jer. 23:29); it is light in the midst of dark- ness (Psalm 119:105); and it is the sole weapon in the Chris- tian's warfare (Eph. 6:17). 14 For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus:--I do not under- stand that they tried to fashion after the example of the Jew- ish churches; but following the same law, meeting the same difficulties, they had developed into the same likeness; became imitators of them by following the same laws. This was said for the encouragement and strengthening of the Thessaloni- ans, for as unbelieving Jews persecuted the Christians in Judea so they had done here to them. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the persecution at Thessalonica, but it was prose- cuted by unbelieving Gentiles. for ye also suffered the same things of your own country- men,--It was always the Jewish policy to persecute by means of others. By making a wily appeal to political passion the Jews had aroused the Gentiles to attack Paul; thence followed the persecution of the church at Thessalonica, which had not at the time of writing subsided. [We do not know to what extremity the enemies of the gospel had gone in Thessalonica ;butthedistressoftheChristiansmusthavebeengreatwhen Paul could make this comparison. He had already told them (1:6) that much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, is the badge of God's children; and here he combines the same stern necessity with the operation of the word of truth in their hearts. The effect of receiving the gospel is in the first in-

stance a new character, a character not only distinct from that of the unconverted, but antagonistic to it, and more directly and inevitably antagonistic, the more thoroughly it is wrought out, so that in proportion as God's word is operative in us, we come in collision with the world which rejects it. To suffer

, therefore, istoPaul theseal offaith. Itisnotasignthat

God has forgotten his people, but a sign that he is with them; andthat theyarebeingbrought byhimintofellowshipwith

2:14-16.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 33

and please not God, and are contrary to all men; 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

the apostles and prophets, and with the Son of God himself. It is a subject for gratitude that they have been counted wor- thy to suffer for his name.] even as they did of the Jews;--In Palestine there were no others but Jews who could be excited against Christians, and they were obliged to appear as the persecutors themselves.

15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets,--Here

is a fearful picture of the results of the wicked course of the Jews. They instigated and led to the death of Jesus. Christ

told how they had killed the prophets. (Matt. 23:31-37.) [This was a terrible indictment against the Jews, the purpose of which was to show the deep sympathy of Paul with the persecuted Thessalonians, and his indignation against the per- secutors, and to make them see more deeply the value of their faith by the effort to keep it from them.] and drove out us,--This refers to Paul and his companions

, therecordof whichwasgivenbyLuke. (Acts17:5-9.)

and please not God,--They had shown by their history that they could not meet with the divine approval. They made great pretensions of being the peculiar people of God, and it was important to show that their conduct demonstrated that they had so such claims. Their opposition to the Thessaloni- ans, therefore, was no proof that God was opposed to them , and they should not allow themselves to be troubled about such opposition. and are contrary to all men;--They worked evil to all men

, bothJewsandGentiles. Theirspirit andpolicymaybeseen from our Lord's great denunciatory discourse against the scribes and Pharisees, and his arraignment of their leaders for their impiety and inhumanity when he said: "Woe unto you , scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye shut the king- dom of heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves

, neithersufferyethemthatareenteringintoenter."(Matt.

23:13.)

16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be

saved;--They did not object to the Gentiles becoming Jews

34 COMMENTARY ON [2:16, 17.

by circumcision and adoption into the Jewish commonwealth ;buttheirchiefpersecutionofPaul aroseonaccountofhis preaching to the Gentiles and teaching both Jews and Gentiles that the Gentiles were equal with the Jews in the grace of God while uncircumcised. [When the Jewish nation set itself relentlessly to prohibit the extension of the gospel to the Gen- tiles--when the word passed round to the synagogues from headquarters that this renegade Paul, who was summoning the pagans to become the people of God, was to be thwarted by fraud or violence--God's patience was exhausted.] to fill up their sins always:--In thus rejecting God, and fighting against man, they heaped up the measure of their in- iquity. God permits men to go far in wickedness because he is long-suffering and gives time for repentance as in the days of Noah. (1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4.) On the other hand, God permits the evil things he sees in man to grow and develop until they become manifest to eyes other than his own that his righteous judgment may be put beyond dispute. (Psalm 89:2, 14.) So he dealt with the Amorites. (Gen. 15 16.) So with the Jews. (Matt. 23:32.) but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.--Their sins are full, their iniquities are complete in the rejection of Christ and the persecution of his servants. So the final ruin and dispersion of the nation was at hand. [The wrath which had been often previously manifested in preemptory calami- ties was not to exhaust its whole force upon them.]

5. PAUL'S EFFORT TO SEE THEM

2:17-20

17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for 6a short season, in pres- ence not in heart, endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with

6Gr. a sea ton of an hour

17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short sea- son,--This he says lest they should think he had deserted them while so great an emergency demanded his presence. If he could not give them the comfort of his presence, he gave them the comfort of knowing that he would have been with them had it been possible. in presence not in heart,--His heart was still with them.

2:17-19.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 35

great desire: 18 because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his 7coming? 20 For ye are our glory and our joy.

7Gr. presence. Comp. 2 Cor. 10. 10

This is an elegant and touching expression used to denote affection for absent friends. Paul's absence from them gave him a greater yearning for their presence. endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire:--[His affection for them was so far from being diminished by his leaving them that it had been the more in- flamed.]

18 because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once

and again;--[This was not a sudden impulse that quickly sub-

sided by his leaving them, as we see sometimes happen, but that he had been steadfast in this purpose, inasmuch as he sought various opportunities to visit them.]

and Satan hindered us.--How and when Satan hindered his visiting them is not revealed, though some adversity, some imprisonment, or hindrance was thrown in his way. [When- ever the wicked molest us, they fight under Satan's ban- ner, and are his agents for harassing us. When our endeavors are directed to the work of the Lord, it is certain that every- thing that hinders proceeds from Satan.]

19 For--[This word introduces his reason for so ardently

desiring to be with them again; this is conveyed in the form of a question to express his deep feeling more effectively than a mere statement would have done. This accounts for his ear- nest desire to visit them. He thus longed to see them for

there was nothing that afforded him its same immediate en- joyment, or the same substantial satisfaction as his spiritual children in Thessalonica.] what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying?--The high- est point in his future was their acceptance as true and faith- ful Christians by the Lord Jesus at his coming. Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming

?--Theywouldbeat thedayof JesusChrist asthefruitsof his labors, the hope of his glorying in that day. Paul frequently calls his converts his crown of glory. "We are your glorying,

36 COMMENTARY ON [2:20 to 3:2.

even as ye also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus." (2 Cor. 1:14.) "Holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain." (Phil. 2:16.) 20 For ye are our glory and our joy.--They were the fruit of his life and labors. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, and as such he gloried and rejoiced in them. In his mind he saw them grow daily out of the taint of heathenism into the purity and love of Christ. He saw them, as the discipline of God's in- struction had its perfect work in them grow from babes in Christ, and grow in the grace and in the knowledge of the Lord, to the measure of the stature of perfect men. He saw them presented faultless in the presence of the Lord in the great day. To witness that spiritual transformation which he had inaugurated carried on to completion gave the future a greatness and a worth which made Paul's heart leap for joy.

6. HE SENDS TIMOTHY TO LEARN THE STATE OF THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH

3:1-10

1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone; 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and 3God's

3Some ancient authorities read fellow-worker with God

1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought

it good to be left behind at Athens alone;--Paul's anxiety for

the Thessalonian Christians was so great that he could endure the strain no longer while he was at Athens and preferred to be left alone.

2 and sent Timothy,--[Immediately upon reaching Athens

, Paul sent wordbacktoMacedoniabythebrethrenwhohad escorted him "that they should come to him with all speed." (Acts 17:15.) It is, therefore, most reasonable to suppose that Silas and Timothy joined Paul forthwith at Athens, and were almost as soon sent back into Macedonia--Silas to Berea or Philippi, and Timothy to Thessalonica. This explains Paul's being left alone. This also explains how both Timothy and Silas came from Macedonia to Corinth. (Acts 18:5.) "To be left behind" was a great trial to Paul's affectionate na- ture. Such a sacrifice may well impress the Thessalonians

3:2, 3.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 37

minister in the 9gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you con- cerning your faith; 3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for your-

9Gr. good tidings; see ch. 1. 5

with the strength of his love for them. He mentions this as if it had been a great sacrifice, and it certainly was so for him. He seems to have been in many ways dependent on the sym- pathy and assistance of others and of all places he ever visited Athens was the most trying to his ardent temperament. It was filled with idols and exceedingly religious yet it seemed to him more hopelessly away from God than any city he had ever visited. Never had he been left alone in a place so com- pletely unsympathetic; never had he felt so great a gulf be- tween the minds of others and his own; and Timothy had no sooner gone than he made his way to Corinth.] our brother and God's minister in the gospel of Christ

,--[Paul bestowsthesecommendatorytitlesonTimothypartly from his affection for his young fellow worker and partly to show still further his love for the Thessalonians which en- abled him to part with so dear and valuable a companion.] to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith ;--The Thessalonian Christians were, at the time this Epistle was written, with only partial gifts of the Spirit and the re- membrance of what Paul had taught them when he was with them. Paul knew they needed a fuller instruction in the com- pleted will of God that they might be established more strongly in the faith. The more complete their knowledge of God's will, the better they knew how to walk in God's ways ;andthestrongerandthemorefixedtheirfaithinhim,the greater joy and comfort they had in doing his will. One's en- joyment of the assurance which faith gives depends on the strength of that faith enlightened and directed by the will of God. [Paul feared that their faith might fail under the perse- cution to which they were exposed. Timothy's mission was in the interest of their faith to impress upon them that the troubles in which they were involved were no proof that their faith was vain and to encourage them to continue steadfast in it.] 3 that no man be moved by these afflictions;--Their love for Paul was so great that his afflictions unduly moved and

38 COMMENTARY

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[3:3-5.

selves know that hereunto we are appointed. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you 1beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter

1Or, plainly

excited them and they felt discouraged and disheartened that Paul, the leader of the Christians, an inspired man of God

, shouldsosuffer. [But theafflictionstowhichheespecially refers are most likely the persecutions which began with the establishment of the church and still continued.] for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed.

--[FromtheverybeginningGoddeclarestohispeoplethatthey may expect to be tried and therefore when trial comes they cannot be inclined to suppose that God is forgetful of them.] The afflictions of God's children do not result from chance

, butarethenecessaryconsequenceofbeinghischildren;they arise from the appointment and ordinance of God. We must be conformed to Christ in his sufferings. To his disciples Jesus said: "In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33.) When the Lord called Paul to the apostleship, he showed him how many things he must suffer for his name's sake. (Acts 9:16.) All the apostles suffered persecution, and, concerning Christians in general, Paul asserts that "through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22.)

4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before-

hand that we are to suffer affliction;--They should not have been surprised at the consequences of their acceptance of the gospel, for he did not withhold from them the inevitable con- sequences of their accepting the gospel. [There was every rea- son to apprehend that they would meet with opposition on ac- count of their becoming Christians, and it was natural that Paul should prepare their minds for it beforehand.]

even as it came to pass, and ye know.--[This refers to the time when Paul, Silas, and Timothy were driven away from Thessalonica, and when the church was so much agitated by the violent opposition of the Jews. (Acts 17:5-8.)

3:5, 6.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 39

had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain. 6 But when Timothy came even now unto us from you, and brought us glad tidings of your faith

longer restrain his anxiety about the effect of his sufferings on them, he sent Timothy that he might know their fidelity, or steadfastness in the gospel. [The word know, as it occurs here, suggests fullness of knowledge rather than progress in knowledge.] lest by any means the tempter had tempted you,--[Paul had just referred to the hindrances to his own movements that Satan had been able to throw across his path. (2:18.) He now writes of a more serious Satanic opposition in the temp- tation of the young Thessalonian church to unfaithfulness. He is anxious lest during his absence the fierce enmity of the Jews, either by some more violent attack on the church or by the harassing of incessant persecution, may at length have broken down their fidelity and faithfulness. The dangers in which these lay besets Christians in all ages, though the form in which it presents itself varies much.] and our labor should be in vain.-- [Paul feared that Satan might have succeeded in weakening their faith, and that his labors in their behalf might therefore finally come to naught. This recognition of the dependence of his final success upon the steadfastness of those who became obedient to the faith under his labors appears particularly in the following exhorta- tion: "So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed , not as in my presence, only, but now much more in my ab- sence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling ;foritisGodwhoworkethinyoubothtowillandtowork,for his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and questionings; that ye may become blameless and harmless , childrenofGodwithoutblemishinthemidstofacrookedand perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain." (Phil. 2:12-16.)] 6 But when Timothy came even now unto us from you

,--TimothyincompanywithSilasjoinedPaul atCorinth(Acts 18:5), and gave him information concerning the condition of the Thessalonian Church. The word now qualifies came, and

40 COMMENTARY

ON

[3:6, 7.

and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also to see you; 7 for this cause, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith:8 for now we

denotes just now. Timothy's return had been anxiously awaited, and no sooner had he arrived and given his report than Paul writes this affectionate and grateful Epistle. and brought us glad tidings of your faith and love,--[The report that Timothy brought from Thessalonica comforted Paul in all his distress and affliction, and brought him new life and indescribable joy. Timothy was a coworker with Paul from the beginning of the Thessalonian Church; he was greatly devoted to it and came at once into close contact with its real condition and found it full of faith and love. They were standing fast in the Lord. Their common faith had its most signal manifestation in love; it separated them from the world, and bound them close to each other. Faith in God and love to him and to man are the very life of the Christian. It is good news to faithful Christians to hear they exist in a con- gregation]. and that ye have good remembrance of us always,--They remembered Paul and his teaching in love, and cherished an affectionate regard for him, notwithstanding the efforts which had been made to alienate their affections from him. longing to see us, even as we also to see you;--There was no disposition to blame him for having left them or because he did not return to them. They were as anxious to see him as he was to see them. [Titus brought a similar message from Corinth to Paul while he was in Macedonia, and that after he had written his severe first Epistle to them. (2 Cor. 7:7.) Writing from Rome, Paul expressed his longing to see again the beloved saints at Philippi (Phil. 1:8), a longing in which Epaphroditus, his fellow worker, shared (2:25). "For in faith ye stand." (2 Cor. 1:24)]

7 for this cause, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith:--Paul was much comforted in his affliction with the assurance of their strong and active faith. [Their faith was the essential point concerning which Timothy was sent to inquire (verse 5); if this was steadfast, all would be well. So the Lord Jesus

3:8-10.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 41

live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

prayed for Peter: "But I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not." (Luke 22:32.)

8 for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.--[When

Timothy came from Thessalonica he found Paul in great need of comforting words. So extreme was his distress that he spoke of it by implication as death. But the good report of the faith and love of the Thessalonians and their joy and glad- ness brought life to him. This passage shows that Paul was a man of a high and ardent nature, sensitive in his affections to a high degree. His whole soul was bound up with the churches he had founded. (2:8.) They were his spiritual "children" (1 Cor. 4:14, 15), his "beloved and longed for, " his "joy and crown" (Phil. 4:1). He lived for nothing else.]

9 For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for

you,--Paul puts this question in proof of the strong declara- tion he had just made; the news that Timothy brought from them was new life to him, so much so that he could find no words sufficient to express his gratitude to God for the abounding joy which filled his heart in thinking of them. for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;--It was a pure, holy joy which was not hindered, but heightened, because it was in God's presence; standing in full view of God, his exultation only swelled to a higher, stronger degree of thanksgiving for all the joy he had received from their steadfastness. [The condition of alarm and depression which Paul had previously experienced made the rebound of joy the more vivid. Only those who have suffered much know joy in its full capacity, "as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." (2 Cor. 6:9, 10.) 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face,--His rejoicing issued in prayer all the more constant and earnest that he might again be with them, not in heart only ,butinperson.

and may perfect--[Since perfect means the attainment of its ends and entire completeness in all its parts, the suffering be- liever should seek to be perfect in the development of charac-

42 COMMENTARY

ON

[3:10-12.

ter, and entire in the discharge of the duties allotted to his several spheres of life. When this end should be attained, he would be lacking in nothing in Christian conduct.] that which is lacking in your faith?--[The things that were lacking to attain this end were not so much what was lacking in their faith, but that which was lacking to perfect their faith. Their faith in itself was steadfast and vigorous. Of their faith Paul says: "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ For from you bath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything." (1:3, 8; see also 2:13, 2 Thess. 1 3.)] The things that were lacking were the things unrevealed. Paul had not, at the time he preached at Thessalonica, re- ceived the fullness of the will of God, or they were not capa- ble of understanding it when he was with them. So their faith was deficient on account of the lack of knowledge. Paul was anxious to supply the lack lest they fall from their stead- fastness. [The principal things lacking apparently concerned their conduct, their hope, and their mutual relationship in the church, for instruction on these points occupies the remainder of the Epistle.]

7. PRAYER FOR THE THESSALONIANS

3:11-13

11Nowmay2ourGodandFatherhimself, andourLordJesus, direct our way unto you: 12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one

2Or, God himself and our Father

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Je- sus,--Paul had earnestly endeavored to visit them, but in vain. Satan had successfully opposed him. But Paul made his appeal to God who is overall, and to the Lord Jesus, their Lord and his. God is mightier and wiser than Satan and his servants, so all is well.

direct our way unto you:--[The petition is that God would remove all obstacles so that he could come direct to them. This prayer, though deferred, in about five years afterwards was fulfilled in his return to Macedonia. (Acts 20:1, 3)]

3:12, 13.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 43

toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; 13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before 3our God andFather, at the4comingof ourLordJesus withall his saints.5

3Or, God and our Father 4Gr. presence. Comp. 2 Cor. 10. 10 5Many ancient authorities add Amen

12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love

one toward another,--Paul so loved them that he could not rest until he had made known the full will of God to them. [Taken together the words may be understood as increase in

love so as to abound.]

and toward all men, even as we also do toward you;--If such earnest love that others should know the truth and be saved was proper for the Thessalonian Christians, it is right for Christians now. Christians then inspired with the true spirit cannot rest without making an earnest effort to make known the will of God to all men. [The Christian obligation to love and to serve is not to be limited in its objects to other Christians, nor does it in any way depend on the love or hate that others may show. (Matt. 5:44-48.) There is no limit to the heart's capacity for love nor to the opportunities afforded for its exercise in daily life; hence, these repeated exhorta- tions. (4:1, 10; 2 Thess. 3:5.)]

13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in

holiness before our God and Father,--The prayer that God would make them to increase in love toward one another and toward all men was to the end that he might thereby establish their hearts unblamable in holiness before God.

at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.--This carries the thought that the heart cannot be established un- blamable in holiness before God--cannot be prepared to meet the Lord at his coming--without a heart abounding in love to- ward both God and man. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfilment of the law." (Rom. 13:10.) He who abounds in love must do what the law re- .quires him to do, both toward God and man.

44 COMMENTARY

SECTION TWO

ON

[4:1.

EXHORTATIONS AGAINST VICE, AND COMFORT AND WARNINGS IN VIEW OF THE COMING OF CHRIST 4:1 to 5:28

1. WARNINGS AGAINST IMPURITY

4:1-8

1 Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus

, that, asyereceivedof ushowyeought towalkandtopleaseGod, evenas ye do walk,--that ye abound more and more. 2 For ye know what 6charge

6Gr. charges

1 Finally--[This does not imply that the letter was drawing to a close, but it marks a transition in the subject matter. Hindered from speaking to them by word of mouth, he writes this Epistle to supply that which was lacking.] then, brethren,--[As he had prayed for their growth in holi- ness, now he exhorts them to the same end; for the only way to reach that condition is through obedience to the revealed will of God.] we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus,--Paul be- seeches them as a matter concerning himself and his interest in them; he exhorts, as it concerns them and their own duty and relation to Christ because they are Christians, that such an appeal is addressed to them. that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk--Received signifies the reception as a matter of instruction. But beside teaching the facts of the gospel they taught its practice--what men should do and what should be the work and effect of their faith (1:3)--as well as what they should believe.

and to please God,--The duty of pleasing God had been em- phasized in Paul's instructions, and he had set all other duties in this light. He spoke of himself "not as pleasing men, but

God who proveth our hearts."

, hesays, they"pleasenot God, andarecontrarytoall men." (2:1 5.) [Our conduct is always in everything pleasing or dis- pleasing to him, and the earnest Christian finds in this the highest delight in the service of God.]

(2:4 .) Similarly of the Jews

4:1-3.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 45

we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God. even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you

even as ye do walk,-- This he adds lest they should be grieved by an apparent assumption on his part that they had failed to heed his former instructions.

that ye abound more and more.-- The close relations of the believer to Christ is the grand motive for striving after true progress. The grace of God supplies the power; the love of Christ brings the obligation. By all that he is to us we are urged to be worthy of him by an even richer and fuller Chris- tian life. [There is no finality to progressive holiness while the believer remains on earth. Life is marked either by growth or decay. Hence, Christians are to be "rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17), to be "sound in faith, in love

, inpatience"(Tit. 2:2);forasthey"walkinlove"towardone another and toward all men, they walk so as to please God (Eph. 5:2). To please God is the highest ambition of the true Christian; the consciousness of pleasing him is the highest Christian joy. But walking implies progress. Standing still is dangerous. They must go on from strength to strength

, forgettingthethingsthatarebehindandpressingontothose that are before.]

2 For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord

Jesus.-He impresses upon them that the commandments he had given were from the Lord Jesus. Although Paul was in- spired, he would not take such responsibilities on his shoul- ders as many uninspired men do every day. Paul would give no direction save what Jesus gave him.

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,-- All

who have entered into Christ, and have thus obligated them- selves to serve him are sanctified in him. that ye abstain from fornication;-- No man can be sanctified or consecrated to God who does not restrain all lusts, and di- rect them in a lawful channel. [The foul and heathenish vice of fornication was prevalent among the heathen and little con- demned by public opinion. It was especially the great sin of Corinth, from which Paul wrote, the patron goddess of which city was Venus. The purity of the Thessalonian Christians was imperiled from the condition of society around them, and

46 COMMENTARY

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[4:3-5.

know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6 that no

in many cases from former unchaste habits. The temptations to licentiousness assailing the first generation of Christians were fearfully strong, and Paul in all his Epistles gives urgent warnings upon this subject. The sense of purity had to be created in men gathered out of the midst of heathen corrup- tion.]

4 that each one of you know how to possess himself

--Everyone should know how to govern his lusts within the lim- its of sanctification and honor and maintain purity and self- restraint. of his own vessel--There can be no doubt that he employs the term to mean body. For everyone has his own body as his house in which he dwells. He would, therefore, have us keep our body pure from all uncleanness. The victim of sen- sual passion ceases to be master of his own person--he is pos- sessed; and those who formerly lived in heathen uncleanness had now as Christians to possess themselves of their bodies to win the vessel of their spiritual life and make it truly their own, and a fit receptacle, for the redeemed and sanctified self. (Luke 21:19.)

in sanctification and honor,--Honorably, for the one who prostitutes his body to uncleanness covers it with infamy and disgrace. [In marriage people are to so live that they may be mutually conscious that with them marriage is an honorable estate, with nothing in it that makes them ashamed, and that it promotes their sanctification.]

5 not in the passion of lust,--Not giving way to the lusts or

to the will or tendency of unrestrained licentiousness. [Pas- sion signifies an overpowering feeling, one to which one so yields himself that he is borne along by evil as if he were its passive instrument; he has lost the dignity of self-control and is the slave of his own appetites.]

even as the Gentiles who know not God;--The Gentiles gave way to the gratification of every lust and evil desire. [For impurity, often in the most abandoned and revolting forms, was a prevailing feature of pagan life at the time Paul wrote. Of their condition, Paul says: "Wherefore God gave

4:5, 6.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 47

man7transgress, andwronghisbrotherinthematter:becausetheLordisan avenger in all these things, as also we 8forewarned you and testified. 7 For

7Or, overreach 8Or, told you plainly

them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile pas- sions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due." (Rom. 1:24-27.) Man first denies his Creator, then, degrades himself.] 6 that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the mat- ter:--This has reference to the sin of adultery. Each one should restrain his lust within the bounds sanctified and made honorable by God. None should go beyond what is right and violate the marital rights of his brethren. because the Lord is an avenger in all these things,--Paul says: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." (Gal. 6 :7, 8.)"Forwhichthings' sakecomeththewrathofGodupon the sons of disobedience." (Col. 3:6.) The law of God , wroughtintotheconstitutionofthehumanbody, takescare that we do not escape without paying the penalty. If not at the moment, it is in the future, and with interest in premature old age; in the torpor which succeeds the excesses of man's prime; in the sudden breakdown under any strain put on ei- ther physical or moral courage. They are avenged in the soul. Sensual indulgence extinguishes the capacity for feeling; the profligate would love but cannot; all that is inspiring, elevat- ing, redeeming in the passions is lost to him; all that remains is the dull sense of that incalculable loss. This deadening is one of the most terrible consequences of immorality. They who do such things do not escape the avenging holiness of God. Even death, the refuge to which despair so often drives,

48 COMMENTARY

ON

[4:6-8.

God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8 Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.

holds out no hope to them. Men and women of the present age need to have impressed on them that God is an avenger of sexual wrongs both in this world and the next. as also we forewarned you and testified.--[On this subject it appears that Paul at Thessalonica had spoken very plainly and solemnly from the first.] 7 For God called us not for uncleanness,--God has not called to practice any lewd and lascivious habits which the Gentiles who know not God practice. The law of God alone can hold back from degrading sins. but in sanctification.--God constituted marriage: "Let mar- riage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled." (Heb. 13:4.) He ordained that every man should have his wife and cleave unto her alone. [The call of God was from the first a sanctifying call for the Thessalonians, and was at- tended with holy influences and forbade all uncleanness. Certainly he never intended them to live impure lives when he called them into his own kingdom and glory. (2:12.)] 8 Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God

,--God'stestofloveiswillingnesstoobeyhimoutofrespect and reverence for his will. "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3.) It matters not what a man's emotions, sympathies, and attractions may be, if he is not willing to deny himself and reject his own wisdom and obey the will of God, he rejects God. According to this rule, so strongly emphasized by God, if a man do the things commanded by God as the dictate of his own wisdom and not as obedience to the will of God, that doing is not accepted as service to God. The principle and test of love becomes simple under the law of God. Whenever one will forego earthly ends to obey, he loves God better than he loves these ends. who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.--God had given to his chosen apostles his Holy Spirit that they might know the mind of God. They delivered this mind or will of God to men; and when they reject or set aside the teaching of the

4:8, 9.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 49

apostles for the wisdom of man they do not reject man, but God. All the efforts to exalt human wisdom and experience to a rule of action for man is to reject the wisdom of God; and those who reject God, God will reject and condemn them with an everlasting destruction.

2. EXHORTATION TO BROTHERLY LOVE AND SOBRIETY OF CONDUCT

4:9-12

9 But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; 10 for

9 But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you:--They already practiced brotherly love. (3:6.) These words distinguished a remarkable characteris- tic of the early church. They describe how the first Chris- tians regarded themselves as the members of one family. They felt like the members of one household, like the nearest kindred in one home, and in the spirit of home life they shared their possessions. This was only possible so long as the fam- ily spirit pervaded the church. Circumstances altered the habits of the church as it grew in numbers and spread over a wide area. But all through Paul's Epistles the same family affection of Christians is apparent. Love of the brethren one for the other is a leading feature of Christianity. for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another

;--Theyshowedtheirlovebydeedsof kindnessandhelpfulness to each other. The whole gospel taught them to love one an- other. As Christ loved the brethren, so in following him they did the same. [When the gospel went abroad in the world , twocharacteristicsofitsadherents--theirpersonal purityand love for each other--attracted general attention. Amidst the gross sensuality of heathenism, the Christian stood untainted by indulgence of the flesh, and the utter heartlessness of hea- then society, which made no provision for the poor, sick, or the infirm and the aged. The Christians were conspicuous for their brotherly kindness to each other. Personal purity and brotherly love were the new and regenerating virtues which Christ had called into existence in the midst of a dying world.

50 COMMENTARY ON [4:9, 10.

indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more; 11 and that ye 9study

9Gr. be ambitious. See Rom. 15. 20 marg.

The principle of brotherly love is the very essence of Chris- tianity. Every believer is taught of God to love the brother who shares his faith; such is the guarantee of our own salva- tion. Hence, it is said: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death." (1 John 3:14.) The brotherly love of the apostolic church was not only visible to the world, it com- mended it to the world; it brought a new thing into being, a new thing for which the world was pining. The poor in the cities of Asia and Europe saw with wonder and joy and hope men and women united to one another in a spiritual union which gave scope to all their gifts for society and satisfied all their desires for it. The churches were companies of people where love to God and man was the prevailing sentiment , where outward pressure often increased the inward bonds ,andwheremutualconfidencediffusedinwardjoy.Menwere drawn to them by the desire to share the life of love.] 10 for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia.--Thessalonica was the natural center of the Mac- edonian churches, including Philippi and Berea, with other congregations which had sprung up around these principal cities. The Thessalonian Christians were using their position and influence for the good of their brethren around them, and thus giving the proof that they were deeply interested in the Lord's work. Silas and Timothy had recently returned from Macedonia (3:6; Acts 18:5), and had doubtless informed Paul of their zeal in behalf of the brethren around them. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more;--[That for which Paul had prayed (3:12) is now the subject of an earnest exhortation. What had formerly applied to the whole of a God-pleasing course is now applied to broth- erly love. He exhorts them to seek opportunities to express their love in brethren beyond Macedonia. Embrace in intellec- tual and practical interest a wider extent of the brotherhood

4:10, 11.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 51

to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even

in Christ. The present obstacle to love is selfishness or exor- bitant fondness for one's own interests, for which we have all reason to humble ourselves before God, and give love the un- limited sway of our being, so that we shall ungrudgingly de- light in our brethren in Christ, seek their advancement in Christian excellence, and help them in all ways we can.] 11 and that ye study to be quiet,--Not meddlesome, or busy- bodies in other people's matters. [For the word "study" the margin has "be ambitious to be quiet." Paul here combines words of contradictory meaning in order to give point and force to the exhortation. The love of personal distinction was an active influence and potent for mischief in Greek city life ;possiblytheThessaloniansweretouchedwithit,andbetrayed symptoms of the restless and emulous spirit that afterwards gave Paul so much trouble in Corinth. He makes it an object in prayer: "I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications , prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men

; .that we may leada tranquil andquiet life inall godliness and gravity." (1 Tim. 2:1, 2.) Eager and active as his own nature was, Paul much admired this kind of a life and deemed it ordinarily the course filled for the cultivation and develop- ment of Christian character. Though he may escape the ex- citements of social and political life, the Christian is exposed to the more subtle dangers of religious excitement, always a chief hindrance to love of the brethren; for as fever prevents the due discharge of the functions of the body, so does excite- ment the healthy activities of the spirit.] and to do your own business,--He instructs them to attend to their own affairs, and not to interfere with the affairs of others. This would prevent the impertinent prying into the affairs of others, to which many are prone, and produce that careful attention to their calling in life, which produces thrift , order, upandcompetence. giveTheLordrequiresnooneto an honorable calling, and countenances idleness in no one. [The Christian should be punctual, prompt, and energetic. "It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left

52 COMMENTARY ON [4:11, 12.

as we charged you 12 that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing.

his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch." (Mark 13:34.)] and to work with your hands,--"Jehovah God took the man

, andputhimintothegardenofEdentodressitandtokeep it." (Gen. 2:15.) "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it avast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3:17-19.) Labor was not the curse, mortality or death was the curse. Labor was the antidote to the curse, as it would employ him in the ways not hurtful. even as we charged you;--While he was with them he com- manded them to labor with their hands, and this command had often been given to them. It is a duty that should be taught to all Christians. 12 that ye may walk becomingly--Christians should so excel in the common decencies and duties of life as to afford the unbeliever no occasion to upbraid or suspect them. Paul was ever solicitous about such matters. He says: "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." (Col. 4:5.) "Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15, 16.) And of the domestic virtues it is said : "In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own hus- bands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear." (1 Pet. 3:1, 2.) And to the husbands he says: "Ye husbands, in like manner ,dwellwithyourwivesaccordingtoknowledge,givinghonor unto the women, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also

4:12, 13.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 53

joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered." (3:7.) toward them that are without,--Those who are not Chris- tians, whether Jews or Gentiles, are without. [While they know nothing of the spiritual blessings of the gospel (1 Cor. 2:14), they do appreciate the difference, order, and confusion between idleness and diligence, between begging and indepen- dence. The good effects of the gospel were to be shown in every relation with all men in daily life, lest the way of truth should be spoken against. "And many shall follow their las- civious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Pet. 2:2.)] and may have need of nothing.--Two purposes would be filled by their industry: (1) allay the suspicions of those with- out; and (2) to be well supplied themselves. Paul limits the labor to that which is good: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that bath need." (Eph. 4:28.) Diligent labor in that which is good that one may supply his own needs and those of his fam- ily, be able to pay his debts, act honestly toward others, and have to give to those who need is the law of God. To work the things that are good is to work at those callings which bring good to the world. Christians are forbidden to work at callings that bring evil.

3. CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP

4:13-18

13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. 14 For

13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren,--[This impressive phrase Paul employs as in Rom. 11:25 and else- where to call attention to a new topic concerning which he was especially anxious for his readers to have a clear under- standing.] concerning them that fall asleep;--Some of the members had died, and this aroused a painful fear lest such had lost their share in the Lord's approaching advent. So vivid was

54 COMMENTARY

ON

[4:13.

the expectation of the Lord's return that it seemed to those newborn children of God that those dying would miss the great hope that had been so precious to them of seeing Christ return to raise the dead. But the glorious revelation here as to the triumphant future of both the dead and living saints

dispelled their gloom and comforted their hearts as it has the

Death is sleep to Christians. The

Lord Jesus Christ made it the standing name for death among believers. (Luke 8:52; John 11:11; Acts 8:1.) The expres- sion indicates the restful effect on the child of God and also its

temporary nature. We sleep but a brief period and then rise to renewed activity. The expression indicates the restful ef- fects of death to the child of God and its temporary nature. It will last no longer than Christ delays his coming. How the word sleep must have consoled the Thessalonian mourners! that ye sorrow not, [Not the natural sorrow over the de- parture of loved ones, but the sorrow of distress about their future. They who look for no resurrection sorrow for the dead, but Christians are not to do so. To bewail the condition of the faithful Christian is wholly out of place, though to utter our own grief and bewail our own loss is natural and fitting. Grief for the loss of friends is common to all, and is not incon- sistent with acceptance of the will of God, neither does it deny the hope of the Christian. Jesus himself wept in sympathy at the grave of Lazarus. (John 11:33-35.) Paul was apprehen- sive of the sorrow into which he would have been plunged had the sickness of Epaphroditus resulted in death. (Phil. 2:27.) The brethren at Thessalonica grieved not merely for their loss, but they grieved also for the loss sustained, as the survi- vors supposed, by those of their number who had died. It was to save them from grief on this account that the apostle wrote, showing them that their fears were groundless.] even as the rest,--The heathens, on the death of their rela- tives and friends, made a great how of excessive grief by cut- ting their flesh and by loud crying and lamentations. who have no hope.--A broad characteristic of all who are not in Christ; they have no hope' concerning the future life. Of the unbelieving Gentiles, Paul said they are: "Strangers

faithful Christians since.

4:13, 14.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 55

if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen

from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and with- out God in the world." (Eph. 2:12.) 14 For if we believe--The foundation truth of the gospel was, and is, that all Christians believe that Jesus died and rose again. that Jesus--[The personal name is appropriate here, as it reminded them that the Deliverer for whom they looked, and who had himself undergone death, which they dreaded, was himself a man, and that his manhood was unimpaired by his death. It was Jesus who died and the same Jesus who rose again. (Acts 1:11; 2:32, 36; 9:5; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Tim. 2:8.) Death had not been final in his case, neither would it be in theirs.] died--The first cardinal point of the gospel of God concern- ing his Son is that he died--"who was delivered up for our trespasses" (Rom. 4:25); "and gave himself up" (Eph. 5:25)

;"suffered"(1Pet.3:18).Thisfactisalwaysstatedindirect

terms. The term as used in the Scriptures refers to two things: (1) The separation of the soul from the body and the cessation of the functions of the body and its return to "dust." (Gen. 3:19.) In this sense Adam's body at the age of nine hundred thirty years died. (Gen. 5:5.) In this sense death awaits every human being. (Heb. 9:27.) (2) The separation of man from God. "For the mind of the flesh is death." (Rom. 8:6.) Adam died in this sense the day he disobeyed God. (Gen. 2:17.) The descendants of Adam are born in the same state of separation from God. In this sense death de- scribes the condition of all unregenerated men. (John 5:24

,25;Rom.5:12-21;Eph.2:15;4:18;1John3:14.)Deathis

the opposite of life. It is definitely stated that God created man, called him into existence (Gen. 1:27); but the Scrip- tures nowhere state that he will ever cease to exist. The term "life" when used of man, as distinguished from the body --"theearthlyhouseof ourtabernacle"(2Cor. 5:1)--maybe defined as conscious existence in communion with God. But when death is used of man, and not merely of the body, it is properly defined as conscious existence in separation from God. All out of Christ are dead, all in Christ have life. But

56 COMMENTARY ON [4:14.

asleep "in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by

10Gr. through.

Or, will God through Jesus

all, whether living or dead, equally exist and are equally con- scious of existence. (Luke 16:19-31.) If death were no ex- istence, the declaration that Jesus died would convey a thought contradictory to the plain teaching of the Scriptures

and would obviously be untrue. Therefore, in whichever sense it is used, it is in the Scripture viewed as the penal con- sequence of sin, and sinners alone are subject to death; it was as the bearer of sin that the Lord Jesus submitted to death on the cross. (Rom. 5:12; 1 Pet. 2:24.) And while the physi- cal death of the Lord Jesus was of the essence of his sacrifice , it was not the whole. It is said: "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, say-

My God, my God, why bast thou forsaken me?"

(Matt. 27:45, 46.) The darkness symbolized and his cry ex- pressed the fact that he was left alone in the universe; he was forsaken. Hence, it is that the word of consolation, "sleep, " was not used of him in his death. Here, however, since not expiation of sin, but the resurrection of the saints is in view , attention is concentrated on the simple historical fact of the physical death of the Lord Jesus. (John 19:30.)

and rose again,--That it was not possible that his Son should be held by death is the second cardinal point in the gospel of God concerning his Son. (Acts 2:24; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:4.) "When he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. 1:3.) [This is the only place in which Paul speaks of the resurrec- tion of the Lord Jesus as his own act. Ordinarily, he speaks of it as the act of God. (1:10.)] even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him.--Jesus was the first fruits from the dead, and the first fruits were the promise of the coming harvest when all in Christ should come forth from the grave. [The same gospel that carried the assurance of the death and resurrection of the Lord carried also the assurance of the resurrection of all who believe on him.]

ing,

4:15.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 57

the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the "coming

11Gr. presence

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,--Paul now gives the authority for this statement and shows how the dead in Christ shall share in the glorious coming of the Lord. By "the word of the Lord, " he evidently means a revelation from the Lord direct to him. In what way prophets and apos- tles became conscious of supernatural inspiration is not re- vealed; but elsewhere also Paul speaks of the consciousness of thus being moved. (Acts 18:9; 1 Cor. 7:10; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:3-12.) [The things to which reference is made are such as the eye has not seen, or the ear heard, or had entered into the heart of man; they are out of range of the natural man. The words of Paul assert that "we say unto you by the word of the Lord, " and thus revealed them to him who spoke them ,andcertainlyinthesamewordstheLordtaughthimtouse. Evidently the Lord guided him to use these words, not be- cause they were unfamiliar, but perhaps for the very purpose of preventing him from using words that were not familiar.] that we that are alive,--At the coming of the Lord Jesus

, believerswill bedividedintotwoclasses, evenastheywere then at Thessalonica, the living and the dead. But the time of that coming has not been revealed; it is among the secret things concerning which Jehovah has kept his own counsel. (Deut. 29:29.) As a consequence in speaking of the coming of the Lord, Paul sometimes associates himself with those looking forward to resurrection (2 Cor. 4:14); sometimes to those looking forward to change (1 Cor. 15:51, 52). It is clear, therefore, that no conclusion can be drawn from Paul's language as to his personal expectations. He certainly shared in what should be the attitude of every generation of Chris- tians--the desire for, and the expectation of, the coming of the Lord Jesus. Throughout his life, as his Epistles clearly show

, hemaintainedthesameattitudetowardthegreat alternatives. His example and his words alike teach us to be prepared to meet death with unflinching courage, but, above all things to look for the coming of the Lord.

58 COMMENTARY ON [4:15, 16.

of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the

that are left unto the coming of the Lord,--These words are intended to show what is meant by the living. They were not necessarily the then living, though there was a reasonable hope that the Lord might come again during the lifetime of those who would read this Epistle, but those who will be upon the earth when the Lord comes. shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep.--This discloses that believers at the time of the Lord's second com- ing shall have no precedence of those that sleep. The dead in Christ shall rise before any change of the living saints shall take place. If there is to be any priority at all, it will be in favor of the sleeping saints; these will be raised before any- thing is done for the living; they are to have the foremost place in the glorious events of the Lord's coming. Though dead, they are "dead in Christ"--departed "to be at home with the Lord." (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23.) 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,--The Lord is now in heaven at God's right hand. (Acts 7:55; Heb. 1:3.) Thence he shall come forth. No apparition will it be , but an actual and visible descent. The same person who as- cended is he who will descend. Angels will accompany the Lord's coming. (2 Thess. 1:7; Matt. 25:30, 31.) They will have their part to perform in the tremendous events of the day. with a shout,--[This word is peculiar and distinctive. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is used of an officer to his troops, or by a sea captain to his crew. It con- fines itself to a particular class; it is addressed to a distinct company; hence, is neither universal nor indiscriminate. It is a signal shout to Christ's own people and to no others. It will single out those who are asleep in Jesus Christ and pass all others by; it will be heard and understood and obeyed by the saints and by no others. For Paul is there dealing with Chris- tians alone; the wicked do not enter the circle the apostle ad- dresses. The like significant fact appears in 1 Cor. 15:35-58. Christians only are subjects of that great call. The wicked dead will certainly be raised and the living nations be judged.

4:16.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 59

archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise

(John 5:28, 29; Matt. 25:31-46.) But here God's people alone are in view. The shout singles out Christ's own dead and quickens them into life. It is an articulate sound, for it is the utterance of the Lord's own voice. (Matt. 24:31; John 5 25-29.) But in the passage before us God's people alone are in view. The almighty shout singles out Christ's own from among the dead and quickens them into life. It is not an inar- ticulate sound that is meant, as a peal of thunder or the loud report of some powerful explosive, as is by some imagined; it is an articulate sound, for it is the utterance of the Lord's own voice. Jesus said: "Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh ,inwhichallthatareinthetombsshallhearhisvoice,and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrec- tion of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrec- tion of judgment." (John 5:28, 29.) At the tomb of Lazarus "he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth." (John 11

:43.)TheLordJesusChristwillutterhisvoice,willcallfrom

above to his sleeping people, and they shall hear and obey the call and come forth in incorruptible and glorious bodies. At his command they shall rise. Round this planet shall that mighty shout ring, penetrating every grave, piercing even the ocean's depth, and it will stir into life and call out into the eternal fellowship of the Lord the whole vast host of the righ- teous dead.] with the voice of the archangel,--[The word seems to de- note, not chief angel, but chief or ruler of the angels. They will have their part to perform in the tremendous events of that day. The voice of the archangel may be employed to summon the heavenly hosts and marshal the innumerable company of the redeemed, for "they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matt. 24:31.) An army associated with royalty gives an impression of power and grandeur. How exalted is this divine personage whose coming is attended by such a retinue--the marshaled legions of the skies!] and with the trump of God:--It is God's trumpet because employed in his heavenly service. Paul calls it "the last

60 COMMENTARY ON [4:16, 17.

first; 17 then we that are alive, that left, shall together with them be caught

trump, " and adds, "For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15:52.) [It is "the last" because it sounds its awful peal in connection with the end. The trumpet, like the voice of the archangel, is but the instrument of God to accomplish his glo- rious purposes. Through both these the descending Lord ac- complishes his sovereign will in the resurrection of his sleep- ing dead and the change of the living saints.] and the dead in Christ shall rise first;--Those in Christ who are dead shall rise and ascend before those who are alive at his coming. [So little danger is there that those who die be- fore the Lord comes will suffer loss; they will be the first to share in the glad triumph of their Redeemer. Immediately thereafter living believers will be fashioned anew in their bod- ies, and so made fit to dwell in Christ in glory. "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15 51, 52.) "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself." (Phil. 3:20 , 21.) Just what is in this physical transformation is not re- vealed; but of some things touching it we may be sure. It will be the identical body and spirit of those then living that will be changed. It will be so complete and perfect that while the identity will be preserved it will be forever freed from all that is earthly, mortal; it will be a "body of glory, " like the glorious body of the Son of God. Incorruption and immortal- ity will be the vesture of the saved and glorified.] 17 then we that are alive, that are left,--[The phrase of verse 15 is here repeated, thus distinguishing as in 1 Cor. 15 :51, 52 between those living and those dead in Christ at the time of his advent, marking the different positions in which these two divisions of the saints will be found. Just what is

4:1 7, 18.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 61

up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore 1comfort one another with these words.

1Or, exhort ch. 5. 11

involved in the physical transformation is not disclosed and speculation is worse than useless.] shall together with them be caught up in the clouds,--"To- gether with" implies full association. Sundered as the saints will be the Lord's return, some in their graves, other alive , and all scattered over the whole earth, they then shall be re- united nevermore to part. to meet the Lord in the air:--Not heaven, not in some sphere infinitely remote from this world, but in the upper re- gions of the lower atmosphere. As they ascend to meet him their bodies "shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twin- kling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:51, 52), thus their bodies shall be changed from natural into spiritual bodies, which, being fash- ioned after the likeness of his glorious body, shall be able to endure the brightness of his presence, which those in the flesh could not (Rev. 1:17). and so shall we ever be with the Lord.--On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am

, thereyemaybealso. (John14:2, 3.) Andheprayedonthe night of his betrayal: "Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may be- hold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24.) 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.--Be- cause the dead shall be raised, and those who remain alive shall be caught up in the twinkling of an eye, and because this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. When our brethren in Christ sleep, we must "comfort one another with these words." These prom- ises of the future resurrection to those in Christ should be grounds of comfort to Christians when their brethren in Christ die. It is a sleep, a rest in Christ Jesus, whence they will come forth with new life and vigor and increasing joys.

a

COMMENTARY ON [4:18 to 5:2.

[What congregation is there in which there is not need of this consolation? One needs the comfort today and another to- morrow; in proportion as we bear each other's burdens, we all need it continually. The unseen world is perpetually opening to receive those whom we love; but though they pass out of sight and out of reach, it is not forever. They are still united to Christ; and when he comes in his glory he will bring them with him. Is it not strange to balance the greatest sorrow of life against words? Words, we often feel, are vain and worth- less; they make no difference in the pressure of grief. Of our own words that is true; but those we have been considering are not our own words, but the words of the Lord. His words are living and powerful. Heaven and earth may pass away, but they cannot pass. Let us comfort one another with these precious words.]

4. CONCERNING THE TRUE WAY TO WATCH FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD

5:1-11

1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the

1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye

have no need that aught be written unto you.--The Greek word for times denotes space of time, that for seasons particu- lar times. The question as to times was how long before the

Lord comes. What periods will elapse before the Lord comes? As to seasons, what events will transpire meanwhile? How will the course of history shape itself? These questions naturally excited their curiosity. But they had been plainly told that they could not know.

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so

cometh as a thief in the night.--They had been taught by the apostle that the coming of the Lord would be as a thief in the night. This Jesus taught: "But of the day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were

before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the

5:2, 3.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 63

day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying , Peaceandsafety, thensuddendestructioncomethuponthem, astravail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. 4 But ye, brethren,

ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all

Watch

away; so shall be the coming of the Son of

therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched

, andwouldnot havesufferedhishousetobebrokenthrough. Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matt. 24:36-44. See also 25:13

; Luke 12:39, 40; 2 Pet. 3:10.) No truthseems to have been more clearly and fully taught than that the Son of man would come when not looked for by the world. Yet there is no ques- tion connected with the Scripture on which man bestows more attention, and no question that they seek more earnestly to determine. The time has been often set, and as often proved a mistake. One, by a righteous and pure life, can be ready for his coming. We should not only be ready for him ,butshouldalsolovehisappearinganddesireearnestlythe day of his coming. 3 When they are saying, Peace and safety,--In the very act of their saying, "Peace and safety"--just when men of the world pronounce everything secure and quiet--then the thief comes, who steals from them the possessions they imagined safe from all attack. Such times of security are pregnant with judgment to the wicked. then sudden destruction cometh upon them.--[Then sud- denly over them stands destruction. Without a moment's warning ruin comes--not seen approaching, but first visible hanging over the doomed sinner.] as travail upon a woman with child;--This image signifies

, besidesthesuddennessofthedisaster, itsintensepain, andits inevitableness. The point of comparison is the suddenness of the birth pang and that of the Lord's coming. and they shall in no wise escape.--[Instead of peace and safety destruction surprises them; all for which they have lived passes away; they awake, as from a deep sleep, to dis-

64 COMMENTARY

ON

[5:3-6.

are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you 2as a thief: 5 for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that are drunken

2Some ancient authorities read as thieves

cover that their soul has no part with God. It is too late then to think of preparing for the end; the end has come; and it is with solemn emphasis that the apostle adds, "They shall in no wise escape."]

4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should

overtake you as a thief:--This does not mean that they will know when the Lord will come, but is an exhortation to be always prepared, always looking, always ready that they may

not be taken by surprise, no matter when he comes.

5 for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day:--The

light which blesses men is all concentrated in Jesus Christ. As the light imparts new possibilities of life to those who oth- erwise are hopelessly in trespasses and sins, so the light of Christ enters into the heart through faith and produces a high spiritual order in the life that is thus begotten and sustained

, astheapostlesays, by"thelight of thegospel of thegloryof

Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:4-6.) we are not of the night, nor of darkness;--To the sons of the day, who knowing and practicing the truth as it is in Christ, there is no night of darkness. They are always in the light. [Paul recognizes no exceptions, no inner distinctions

, amongthemembersofthechurch;all standalikesofaras grace, privileges, and duties are concerned. The following ex- hortation shows that it was a matter of each man's free will whether he would sustain his character as a "child of light" or

not.1

6 so then let us not sleep, as do the rest,--Since we are of

the day, let us not be careless, indifferent, or engaging in the works of darkness. [There is a conduct appropriate to every position. Our position as sons of light implies .a certain corre-

sponding wakefulness. We are sons of light because we live in Christ; it follows that we look for his appearing, and do not

5:6, 7.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 65

are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, since we are of the day, be sober,

sleep as others may do who do not desire or expect his corn- ing.] but let us watch and be sober.-- [Evidently the term sober in this connection means sober as opposed to being drunk. Everyone would shrink from being drunk on the great occa- sion of the Lord's coming; yet the great day of his coming is associated with a warning against this awful sin. The Lord warned: "Take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day comes on you suddenly as a snare." (Luke 21:34.) Paul warns: "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness

, andlet usput onthearmorof light. Let uswalkbecomingly as in the day , not in revelling and drunkenness, not in cham- bering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy." (Rom. 13 :12, 13.) What horror could be more awful than to be over- taken in this state?]

7 For they that sleep sleep in the night;--The wicked, the careless, the licentious are children of the night, and engage in their sins in the night, when the thief will come unawares upon them. The children of the day are those who live faith- fully, always watching for the Lord's coming. He will come to the children of the night with sudden destruction and ruin

; but tothechildrenof theday, hewill bringdeliveranceand eternal salvation. Hence, the exhortation to be faithful chil- dren of the light. and they that are drunken are drunken in the night. --[These words are to be taken as a simple statement of fact --whatoccursintheordinaryexperiencesoflife. Thenightis the season in which sleep and drunkenness occur; whereas the day is the time for watchfulness and work. The Jews and heathen considered it disgraceful for a man to be drunk in the daytime. For this reason the Jews on the day of the Pente- cost said of the apostles: "They are filled with new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and

these are not drunken, as ye sup-

spake forth unto them,

pose; seeing it is but the third hour of the day." (Acts 2:13-

66 COMMENTARY

ON

[5:8-10.

putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether

8 But let us, since we are of the day, be sober,--He exhorts those who are of the day to restrain the appetites and pas- sions to proper limits. [While the word sober means freedom from the influence of intoxicants, it also means freedom from credulity and from excitability. As watch denotes alertness

, isinsobersocontrasttothelethargyofsleep, sothelatteris in contrast to the excitement of drunkenness. (Eph. 5:18.) Christian sobriety of maturer years is the result of self-control and the study of the Scriptures.] putting on the breastplate of faith and love;--[Of believers in Christ the apostle says: "For ye are all sons of God

, throughfaith, inChristJesus. Forasmanyofyouaswere baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26, 27), and he

is to "put on therefore, as God's elect,

sion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering" (Col. 3 :12), and such is to be the ordinary apparel of the Christian. In this character he is to appear daily in the world. He, how- ever, is enrolled as a soldier (2 Tim. 2:4), and as such has suitable armor provided for him, and with this he is exhorted to clothe himself (Eph. 6:11). The whole is summed up in these words: "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14), for the man who puts on the Lord Jesus Christ stands both in the Christian's dress and in the Christian's panoply.] and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.--The hope of salva- tion is the helmet to protect the head--a salvation, the hope of which is to cover the heads in the day of battle.

a heart of compas-

9 For God appointed us not unto wrath,--The design of God in sending his Son into the world was not to condemn it. but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,--Those who obtain this salvation and glory do so ac- cording to the appointment and calling of God on condition of a willing response to that calling through Jesus Christ. 10 who died for us,--No language expresses the office of the death of Jesus Christ so well as that used by the Holy Spirit "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being jus-

5:10.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 67

we 3wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore 4exhort

3Or, watch 4Or, comfort ch. 4. 18

tified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God sent forth to be a propritiation ,throughfaith,inhisblood,toshowhisrighteousnessbecause of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbear- ance of God; for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that bath faith in Jesus." (Rom. 3:23-26.) That is, the blood of Christ was provided for the salvation of all; but only those who, led by faith in God, accept the salva- tion provided can appropriate that salvation, or God is, by the shedding of that blood, enabled to be just while justifying him who believes in Jesus. This justification and the benefits through it are conveyed to the sinner through the exercise of faith in Christ Jesus, or through walking in the exercise of complying with the conditions sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ, into which he is led by faith in him. It follows then if one's life is saved through the blood of Christ, then Christ is entitled to that life, and man can approach God only through and by virtue of the blood with which he was purchased. He must come to God as the servant of Christ who has redeemed him. that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.--[This refers to the anxieties of the Thessalonian Christians regarding their deceased brethren. He assures them that the very object of Christ in dying was to secure to his people a life which no death could interrupt or destroy. Those who have died before his second coming suffer no dis- advantage, for he has secured that whether we wake or sleep --live or die--we should live with him. If we live in the flesh

, we are to live by faithinthe Sonof God; we are to live by his grace, under his protection, in his body--the church. If we die, we die unto him, and in some way he reveals himself as nearer to us than when we live here on earth. Thus Paul says: "But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better." (Phil.

68 COMMENTARY ON [5:11, 12.

one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.

11 Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up

,--Because Jesus died that all might live with him, we should encourage, edify, and strengthen one another to continue in the way of life and peace. [It remains with us to watch and be sober; to arm ourselves with faith, love, and hope. Paul says: "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth." (Col. 3:2.) It is left to us as Christians to assist each other in the appropriation and ap- plication of these great truths.]

this new spirit each member

sought the welfare of his fellow Christian, not on stated occa- sions, but as opportunity afforded; and not in any formal way

even as also ye do.--[In

, but asfromtheheart, thusrealizingtheintimaterelations

that exist between those who are members of the one body (Rom. 12:5), and thus giving effectual expression to the unity of all in Christ.]

5. EXHORTATION TO ORDERLY LIVING AND DUE PERFORMANCE OF SOCIAL AND SPIRITUAL DUTIES

5:12-22

12 But we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you

, andareoveryouintheLord, andadmonishyou;13andtoesteemthem

12 But we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor

among you,--To labor is the ordinary expression of Paul for such work as he himself did. Perhaps it refers to the giving of that regular and connected instruction in the truth which followed faith and baptism. It covers everything that could be of service to the church or any of its members. Paul says "Now I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Steph- anas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have set themselves to minister unto the saints), that ye also be in subjection unto such, and to every one that helpeth in the work and laboreth." (1 Cor. 16:15, 16.) Those who labor are not necessarily elders or deacons; for some of the best workers in the church are not elders or deacons.

and are over you in the Lord,--They were not over them in worldly affairs, but in things pertaining to the Lord.

5:12-14.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 69

exceeding highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among your- selves. 14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage

and admonish you;--[Admonition is a somewhat severe word; it means to speak to one about his conduct, reminding him of what he seems to have forgotten, and of what is rightly expected of him. Admonition differs from remon- strance in that the former is warning based on instruction; the latter may be little more than expostulation. Eli remonstrated with his sons (1 Sam. 2:24), but failed to admonish them. We are admonished (1 Cor. 10:11) so to minister the word of God that they shall depart from unrighteousness (2 Tim. 2

:19).]

13

and to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their

work's sake.--The Bible deals but little in mere sentiment of feeling. It demands action and deeds that flow from kindly feelings and loving hearts, faith made perfect by works. So the esteem must show itself in deeds of kindness and helpful- ness in whatsoever they need or will aid them in their work. It involves both moral and material support. [Thus not per- sonal affinity, but actual service rendered to the Lord in la- bors among his people is the ground on which believers are to hold their brethren in loving regard.]

Be at peace among yourselves.--Christians must cultivate a spirit of peace and harmony among themselves. [This in- struction suitably follows the foregoing admonitions. They were not to quarrel with those over them nor let their actions produce a factious spirit. The church was new among them and brought them into new and delicate relations with per- sons of various educational advantages and habits; there were difficulties and great need of patience and forbearance; but the order that they live in peace was somewhat modified by these additional words: "If it be possible, as much as in you lieth ;be at peace with all men" (Rom. 12:18), but not intended to excuse any evasion of the plain obligation imposed by the command, but throws the responsibility on every believer who does not hold himself in obedience to the command.]

14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly

,--It is the duty of Christians, as members of the church, to help one another to a better and more faithful and holy life.

70 COMMENTARY

ON

[5:14.

the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all. 15 See that

[The disorderly are those who fall short of the Christian stan- dard or who violate the laws of the Lord by irregularities of any kind. Any Christian who sees any walking disorderly has a right to admonish them; it is laid upon him as a sacred duty tenderly and earnestly to do so. We are too much afraid of giving offense and too little afraid of allowing sin to run its course. Which is more godlike: to speak to the one who has been disorderly or say nothing at all to him, but talk about what we find to censure in him to everyone who will listen to us, dealing freely behind his back with things we dare not speak to his face? Surely admonition is better than gossip

; evenif it ismoredifficult, it ismoreChristlike. It maybe that our own conduct shuts our mouths or at least exposes us to a rude retort; but unaffected humility and devotion to God can overcome that.] encourage the fainthearted,--This refers to those who are easily disheartened and discouraged. They lack the energy and boldness in which the disorderly abound. They require constraint as the others require restraint. Sensitiveness to criticism, dread of persecution, a sense of failure to follow the will of the Lord, apprehensiveness concerning the future are among the causes that produce faintness of heart. support the weak,--Those without spiritual strength, the weak in faith and conscience who do not go forward. It is very conceivable that in so young a church there were yet people, who, like children, easily stumbled. We must hold on to them, not expect or leave them to stand alone. "Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neigh- bor for that which is good, unto edifying." (Rom. 15:1.) be longsuffering toward all.--[Long-suffering is the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate nor promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy and used of God. (Ex. 34 :6; 1 Pet. 3:20.) Christians must learn to be patient, forbear- ing, persevering, not easily discouraged in helping all men in their weakness and trials.]

5:15-17.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 71

none render unto any one evil for evil; but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and towards all. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in

15 See that none render unto any one evil for evil;--The es-

sential temper of Christ is not to render evil for evil; he did not take vengeance. "For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye

who, when he was reviled, re-

should follow his steps;

viled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but com- mitted himself to him that judgeth righteously." (1 Pet. 2

:21-23.)

but always follow after that which is good, one toward an- other,--The same spirit of love, forbearance, kindness, return- ing good for evil, that shone so brightly in the Son of God , must exist in the life and bearing of Christians toward one an- other. and toward all.--God requires Christians to maintain and manifest this spirit for their own good, and as Christ's disci- ples may show his spirit and commend his religion to the world.

16 Rejoice always;--Christians with the blessings and pro-

tection of God here on earth, with his everlasting arms under-

neath them, and with the glories of the eternal world opened to them, should rejoice always. [Paul had learned, and taught the secret, that in sorrow and suffering endured for Christ's sake there is hidden a new spring of joy.]

17 pray without ceasing;--Feeling his own weakness, his

shortcomings, and his dependence upon God, the child of God cannot otherwise than pray earnestly and fervently for the help of God in all the difficulties, temptations, and trials of life. He realizes his own weakness and infirmities, and God's power and goodness, and he cannot do otherwise than pray. A spirit of prayer and devotion should be so cultivated and maintained in the Christian's heart that will make every breath he draws fragrant with the odor of prayer. [If prayer is thus combined with all our works, we shall find that it wastes no time, though it fills all. Certainly it is not an easy practice to begin, that of praying without ceasing. It is so natural for us not to pray that we perpetually forget and undertake this or

72 COMMENTARY ON [5:1y, 18.

Christ Jesus to you-ward. 19 Quench not the Spirit; 20 despise not proph-

that without God. But surely we get reminders enough that this omission of prayer is a mistake. Failure, loss temper, ab- sence of joy, weariness, and discouragement are its fruits , whileprayerbringsuswithout fail thejoyandstrengthof God. The apostle himself knew that to pray without ceasing requires an extraordinary effort; and in the only passages in which he urges it, he combines it with the duties of watchful- ness and persistence. (Eph. 6:15; Col. 4:2; Rom. 12:12.) We must be on our guard that the occasion for prayer does not escape us, and we must take care not to be wearied with this incessant reference of everything to God.] 18 in everything give thanks:--The Christian, realizing what God in Christ has done for him and the world, and how transcendently greater are the glories of the eternal world than all the sorrows and misfortunes of this evil world, that amid the deepest misfortunes of earth, lifts his heart in praise and thanksgiving to God. [Failure in thanksgiving for bless- ings enjoyed is evidence of the alienation of man from God (Rom. 1:21); thanksgiving under circumstances of adversity and sorrow was characteristic of the Lord Jesus. When the people of certain cities rejected him, he answered and said: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: yea, Father, for so it was well- pleasing in thy sight." (Matt. 11:25, 26.) And when he gave thanks for the bread, the symbol of his death, he knew that in his adversities the will of the Father was being accom- plished.] for this is the will of God--To do the will of God is to yield ourselves to the accomplishment of his design for us. in Christ Jesus--The servants of God are to do the will of God as expressed in the life of Christ Jesus in his submission to God, which made his heart glad even in the face of death. (Psalm 16:7-11.) [He not only taught his disciples to rejoice (Matt. 5:12), pray (Luke 11:1-13), and to give thanks (John 6:11-23); but he was the perfect example of all these things (Acts 1:1). His conduct (John 6:38; Heb. 10:7, 9) and his message (John 17:8, 14) together were the revelation of the

5:18-21.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 73

esyings; 21 5prove all things; hold fast that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

Many ancient authorities insert but

will of God to the world, and in these things Paul could say "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). For as to rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10; 7:4), prayer (Phil. 1:9), and thanksgiving (2 Cor. 2:14) they were all expressed in his daily life.]

to you-ward.--[God not only desires that these things shall be in his children, but what is taught them may be made ef- fectual in their daily conduct. To this end the apostle says "So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:12, 13.)]

19 Quench not the Spirit;--The spirit dwells within the

Christian and rises within him. It is likened to a fire burning within him, and is not to be quenched. Not to be restrained

, but its promptings are to be followed. We quench what dwells within and rises up within us. We resist what ap- proaches us from without. The Christian is warned not to quench the spirit that dwells within. The sinner is warned not to resist the Spirit which appeals to him from without.

20 despise not prophesyings;--Prophesying originally

meant foretelling future events. It came to mean, in process of time, any kind of teaching by supernatural gifts. These teachers could often teach by the spirit, but were not able to work miracles to prove it. Under cloak of spiritual gifts false teachers came in and the disciples were in danger of rejecting and despising all claims to spiritual gifts of the lower order. Paul tells them here not to despise these teachers or their

teaching.

21 prove all things;--Instead of rejecting these teachings

claiming to be spiritual, they were to prove or test all. The test was: "If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or

spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37.) Conformity in his teachings and prophesyings

74 COMMENTARY ON [5:21-23.

to the teachings and writings of the apostles was the test by which all claims of prophetic power or spiritual gifts of any description must be decided. If the person did not teach ac- cording to the standard, he was to be rejected. If we relax a constant watchfulness and a free discussion of all practical principles taught, before we are aware of it the faith of the church will be perverted by false teachings, and its life cor- rupted by sinful practices. "Be sober, be watchful: your ad- versary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 5:8.) hold fast that which is good;--Lay hold to that which is good and beneficial in its effects. Those who do so "are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience." (Luke 8:15.) [The connection is the same as: "I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment ;sothatyemayapprovethethingsthatareexcellent;thatye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ ;beingfilledwiththefruitsofrighteousness, whichare through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." (Phil. 1:9-11.)]

22 abstain from every form of evil.--They were not only to

abstain from doing evil, but from the "form of evil"--the like- ness of evil. This accords with: "Let not then your good be evil spoken of." (Rom. 14:16.) Do not do good in such a way as to make people think you rendered evil purposes. This is frequently done. Some people do many good things in such a way that others think they are actuated by evil motives and sinister designs.

6. THE APOSTLE'S PRAYER FOR THE THESSALONIANS 5:23, 24

23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit

23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly;--The

object and purpose of God is to build up a community on earth, recognizing him as the only and supreme Ruler that will in all things be governed by his laws and animated by his Spirit. God gives assurance that such a community would bring the highest degree of happiness to every member and

5:23.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 75

and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the 6coming of our

6Gr. presence

confer the highest benefit on the world as well as bring the greatest honor to God that is possible to man in the flesh and eternal glory in the future. But few of those who profess to be his children believe this. We by our actions show plainly that we disbelieve it; we refuse to use our time, talent, and means as God directs. What we have belongs to God; he lends it to us here for a time to use for his honor and our good. If we use it wisely and well, as he directs, when we have proved our worthiness, he will give us eternal posses- sions as our own. The Savior said: "He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10-12.) What we have here is loaned us by the Lord; what will be given to us in the fu- ture will be our own forever. and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire ,--The body is the fleshly part of man in which the soul or spirit dwells. The Bible makes no distinction between the soul and the spirit. The terms are used interchangeably and refer to the spiritual entity that dwells in the fleshly body and makes that body a man. The two words are used probably five hundred or more times in the Bible. In this instance they are used together, but as meaning the same thing. Paul, to strengthen his saying and to fully cover the ground, often used several words meaning much the same to give force and breadth to his expression. In this same Epistle are two other examples: "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe." (2:10.) Here are three words with hardly a distinction in meaning to express the purity of his life and its worthiness to be followed by them. Again: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying?" (2:19.) These words did not refer to distinct things or feelings. Then the lexicons

76 COMMENTARY ON [5:23-25.

Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.

define soul as spirit and spirit as soul showing that they are so used by all scholars. The body is the fleshly part of man in which the soul or spirit dwells. Life on earth is the union of the soul or spirit with the material body; the two combined constitute the living being or person as we see and behold him. Death is the separation of the soul, or spirit, from the material body; so this loses its vitality and crumbles into dust. without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

--[Hepraysthat theymaybefoundfreeof blameat thecoming of the Lord, when the saints and their works "shall be made manifest" (1 Cor. 3:13) before the judgment seat of Christ. Thus they were to be without blame not merely in conduct before men, but in heart before the Lord himself.] 24 Faithful is he that calleth you,--God had called them into the service of the Lord Jesus Christ through the gospel that had been preached unto them. [In making promises God does not lie or repent of them when made (Rom. 11:29), but fulfills them all in his own time (1 Tim. 6:15). Because of his faithfulness believers are encouraged to confess their sins with the promise that "he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9.)] who will also do it.--He was faithful and would so sanctify and preserve them blameless unto the coming of Jesus Christ. He promised to keep them only as they walked in his ways. When they did it, he was faithful to make good his promise.

7. PERSONAL INJUNCTIONS AND BENEDICTION

5:25-28

25 Brethren, pray for us.'

'Some ancient authorities add also

25 Brethren, pray for us.--We learn how Paul esteemed prayer by the constancy with which he prayed for others

; howearnest hewasinaskingtheprayersof Christiansinhis own behalf. If an inspired apostle like Paul felt the constant

5:25-27.] FIRST THESSALONIANS 77

26 Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the 9brethren.

9Many ancient authorities insert holy

need of the prayers of others, that he might be able to stand

, besteadfast inthetruth, andbeboldtoteachthewholewill of God to man, how much more do Christians of today need the help and strength that comes through the prayers of oth- ers in their behalf!

26 Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss.--The kiss was

the common salutation in the East. The kiss was not ordained by God as a method of salutation. It was found and regu- lated. The direction was when you greet one another with a kiss, let it be holy, not a lascivious or lust-exciting kiss.

27 I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto

all the brethren.--Why it was necessary to make this request is a little strange. Perhaps then as now, some were not highly esteemed and were neglected, and he wished all, the least as well as the greatest, to have the benefit of his teach- ing. [There is no secret code in Christianity, no mystery for the initiated few. All God's spiritual gifts are intended for all God's children. Paul had a message from God to deliver (4 :15) to all the saints, and each individual believer was, per- sonally and directly, responsible to God for his own hearing and understanding of that message, and for his own obedience to it. There were distracting influences among the saints (2 Thess. 2:3). Some lightly accepted untested teachings, some

set prophecy altogether at nought (5:19-22); some impatient with the disorderly (5:14); some may have been so over- whelmed with sorrow as to forsake the assembling of the saints (4:13-18). To help such the Epistle had been written

, but onlythosewhohadheardit readcouldprofit byit. Thus garbled reports of its contents might be circulated, and the authority of the apostle claimed for teachings and practices he had not sanctioned. And if Timothy had reported that some were already misusing his name, and pretending to have his authority for their statements, as was certainly the case after- wards (2 Thess. 2:2), the public reading of what he had writ- ten would be the best cure for the mischief, and the best pre- ventive of its recurrence.]

78 COMMENTARY

ON

[5:28.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.--[This contains all spiritual good that one Christian can wish an- other. Such grace is with us, when it constantly attends us

, whenit forms the atmosphere we breathe, the light by which we see, the guiding and sustaining influence of our whole lives.]

COMMENTARY ON THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS

CONTENTS.

 

Page

INTRODUCTION

83

SECTION ONE

RETROSPECTIVE VIEW (1:1-12) 85

1. Salutation (1:1, 2) 85

2. Thanksgiving for the steadfastness they had displayed under con- tinual persecution (1:3-12) 85

SECTION TWO

THE LORD'S COMING TO BE PRECEDED BY THE LAWLESS

ONE

1. Warning against supposing that the day of the Lord is now present (2:1-12) 94

(2:1-17) 94

2. Renewed thanksgiving on their behalf and prayer for their com- fort and hope (2:13-17) 101

SECTION THREE

HORTATORY (3:1-18) 105

1. Requests prayers for himself (3:1-5) 105

2. Divers exhortations, autographic attestation, and benediction (3:

6-18)

108

APPENDIX 305

INDEX 311

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND THESSA- LONIAN EPISTLE

I. OCCASION AND DESIGN OF THE EPISTLE

The persons to whom this Epistle was written--"the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." In order to understand it, we must ascertain the condition of the church when it was written. Paul had been compelled to leave the Thessalonian Christians only partially instructed in the gospel of Christ. He had written them an Epistle to correct abuses and to supply what was lacking in their understanding of the gospel. (1 Thess. 3:10.) The in- telligence brought back to Paul by the bearer of the Epistle or through some other channel was the reason why it was writ- ten. He thus received a good report of the Thessalonians ,andwasenabledtoexpresshisjoyandthankfulnesstoGod that their faith grew exceedingly, and the love of everyone to- ward each other abounded. (1:3.) But still the erroneous views concerning the coming of the Lord and the consequent disorders to which he had called attention had rather in- creased than diminished. The Lord Jesus Christ had as- cended to heaven about twenty years before, and had prom- ised to return at an uncertain date, and therefore nothing was more natural than the church in general should have expected an early return. Various circumstances, both in the church and in the world

, heightenedtheexpectation. Suchaviewofanimmediate coming of the Lord had taken possession of the minds of the Thessalonian Christians. Their deceased relatives who, they thought, would lose all the benefits occurring at the Lord's coming, had indeed been assuaged by the former Epistle, but the expectation of the immediate coming of the Lord had grown in strength. They, it would seem, from misapprehend- ing some passages of the first Epistle that the day of Christ's coming was at hand. (2:2.) Mistaken and enthusiastic men had also nourished this deception by appealing to visions and to the traditionary sayings of the apostle; and it would even appear that an epistle had been forged in the name of the apostle. The church was thrown into a state of wild excite-

84 INTRODUCTION

ment; an impatient and fanatical longing for the instant when Christ would come seized upon one portion, while fear and consternation at the awfulness of the event overwhelmed an- other. The consequence was that many of the Thessalonians were neglecting their secular business and living idle and use- less lives, conceiving that there was no use of working in a world which was soon to be destroyed or of performing the duties belonging to a state of things which was soon to termi- nate. Their only duty they felt was to be in readiness for the immediate coming of the Lord. Accordingly, the design of the apostle in writing the Epistle was to correct the error which the Thessalonians entertained concerning the immediate coming of the Lord, and to correct those abuses to which that error had given rise. The main object of Paul was to warn the Thessalonians against think- ing that the day of the Lord was just at hand. He reminds them of his former instructions on this point and tells them that a series of events--the manifestation and destruction of the man of sin--would intervene. "Now we beseech you , brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand." And along with this correction of error was the correction of disorders occasioned by it. There were among the Thessalonians some who walked disorderly

, that workednot at all, but werebusybodies; thoseheenjoined to return to their employment, and "that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread." (3:10-12.)

II. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING

This Epistle evidently was written at Corinth not long after the first, most likely in the latter part of the year 53.

COMMENTARY ON THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS

SECTION ONE RETROSPECTIVE VIEW

1:1-12

1. SALUTATION AND GREETING 1:1 2

1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; 2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the

Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

;2GracetoyouandpeacefromGodtheFatherandtheLord

Jesus Christ.--This Epistle was written a short time after the first, and as Sylvanus and Timothy were still with him at Cor- inth, he joins their names with his, because they were well known to the church in Thessalonica.

2. THANKSGIVING FOR THE STEADFASTNESS THEY HAD DISPLAYED UNDER CONTINUAL PERSECUTION

1:3-12

3 We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, even as it is meet, for that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of each one

3 We are bound to give thanks to God always for you

,brethren,--[Paulhadprayed:"NowmayourGodandFather himself, and our Lord Jesus,

make you to increase and

abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father" (1 Thess. 3:11-13). Here he acknowledges that his prayers were answered and that he regarded himself as much bound to thank him for answering his prayers as he was to make known to God his requests. In this we have an instance of the value and efficacy of intercessory prayer, and of the aid we may render our brethren by intercessions in their behalf.]

even as it is meet,--[It was right, on the ground of fitness

, that laborshouldberewarded(1Tim:5:17, 18) andsinpun-

86 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:3, 4.

of you all toward one another aboundeth; 4 so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your 1patience and faith in all your persecu-

1Or, stedfastness

ished (Luke 23:15; Rev. 16:6). It was fitting for Paul to thank God for the preservation and development of the Thes- salonian Church, for it was not to be credited to Paul and his fellow laborers, nor to the converts themselves, nor to those who labored among them, but to the goodness and power of God, and to him he gave thanks.] for that your faith groweth exceedingly,--Faith was the plant that sprang from the seed--the word of God--sown in the heart. Paul says: "I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6.) Paul first preached at Cor- inth, Apollos afterwards came and encouraged and exhorted them to continue faithful and persevere in the begun course. This corresponded to watering the plant, and as a result of the seed planted in the heart, and the watering done by Apollos , God gave the increase--the fruit of a holy, earnest, and conse- crated life devoted to God. Faith grows from the very first reception of the word of God in the heart to the strong assur- ance of knowledge gained through a faithful walk with God. and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth;--As the result of the growth of faith in God, their love toward each other abounded more and more. Faith in God makes man love his fellow man. True love to our fellow man is shown by helpfulness rendered to him. As faith grows the love to one another abounds more and more abundantly. Our willingness and anxiety to do good to others is the mea- sure of our real faith in God. If our love to man is not active and self-sacrificing, our faith in God is weak and lifeless. 4 so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God --This improvement in the faith and love of the Thessalonian brethren caused Paul to glory in them to the other churches in the neighborhood of Corinth such as Cenchrea (Rom. 16 :1) or by letter in those farther away. He was possibly think- ing of more distant churches--those of Judea and of Syria

, withwhomhewasmost likelyincorrespondence. [It isat all times right and profitable that the vigor and prosperity of one

1:4, 5.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 87

tions and in the afflictions which ye endure; 5 which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:6 if so be that it is a righteous

church should be known in all, both for their rebuke and for their encouragement; but it was eminently so in apostolic times when churches situated amidst a heathen population must have felt isolated and forlorn.]

for your patience and faith--Their patience, perseverance

, andunfalteringfaithinthemidst of thepersecutionsand troubles that had come upon them (Acts 17:5-9; 1 Thess. 2 14-16) shows that they suffered great affliction on account of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. [Faith and patience are two distinct Christian graces; but the one upholds the other ;patiencestrengthensfaithbecauseitisfaithinaction;and faith strengthens patience because faith is the evidence of the unseen reward of endurance.]

in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye en- dure;--Persecution implies active personal enemies and de- scribes their hostile actions toward others; afflictions are the various kinds of injury to body and mind suffered by those who are persecuted.

5 which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God;--The persecution brought upon them was a clear sign of the righteous judgment of God that he might test and try them and prove them worthy to receive the blessings of the kingdom of God. [Such affliction is viewed not only as a spe- cial privilege granted to the believer but as an unmistakable token of his acceptance with God--that he is to share Christ's exaltation and glory at his coming.]

to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God,--[Their sufferings served another purpose; they were not only suggestive of the judgment to come they were also disciplinary. They are intended to make those who endured them meet for the inheritance of the saints.]

for which ye also suffer:--Until the power of the gospel came into their hearts, they were incapable of such endurance. That they had patiently endured and their faith had not failed was proof of the new life and an assurance that God would vindicate himself and them. Thereby all thoughts of ven-

COMMENTARY ON [1:5-7.

thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you, 7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to

geance were banished and a solemn sense of submission to God's will was encouraged.] It is a blessing to man to try and to test him and prove his worthiness for the kingdom of God.

6 if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recom-

pense affliction to them that afflict you,--While God permit- ted them to suffer persecution as a means of testing and strengthening their faith and love, he recompensed tribulation on those who troubled them. God uses wicked men to try the faith and love of his servants, to test their worthiness, and then so orders that these wicked persecutors are punished for the evil they brought on his servants. God works in and through his people and overrules and controls the courses of the wicked.

7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us,--God recompen-

ses evil to the wicked who trouble his children, but will give to those who suffer evil rest with the chosen apostles of Jesus Christ. [Though Paul's absence prevented him sharing their gifts, he was not therefore exempt from affliction. (1 Thess. 3:3, 4, 10, 11.) The prospect of its early satisfaction had faded indeed, but their reunion was assured notwithstanding its delay. Here he associated himself and them who will be alive on the earth at that time, and associated himself with those who would pass away before it. (2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 4:15.) The subject immediately before his mind was not the rest of the saints, but the retribution of God on their persecu- tor. I

at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven--When the Lord Jesus shall come from heaven in visible form, it will be a revelation, a manifestation of the Lord Jesus before unseen. "Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him." (Rev. 1:7.) with the angels of his power--The angels of exalted rank and glory will accompany him. Their presence suits the maj- esty in which "he cometh in the glory of his Father with the

1:7, 8.] SECOND

THESSALONIANS 89

them that know not God, and to them that obey not the 2gospel of our Lord

2Gr. good tidings: and so elsewhere. See marginal note on Mt. 4. 23

holy angels." (Mark 8:38.) They are frequently associated with Christ in connection with his redemptive and mediatorial work. They announced his birth (Luke 2:8-14), resurrection (Matt. 28:2-6), and return (Acts 1:10); they minister to him after his temptation (Matt. 4:11) and in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43); they will attend him at his return to judgment (Matt. 16:27). In that day they will be called upon to worship him. (Heb. 1:6.) in flaming fire,--[God is described in the Old Testament as

a consuming fire, and especially his coming to judgment is de-

scribed as a coming in fire. (Ex. 3:2; Dan. 7:9, 10.) What is there ascribed to God is here transferred to Christ. (1 Cor. 3:13.) The additional clause accordingly serves for a further exaltation of the majesty and glory in which Christ will re- turn.]

8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God,--He

will send his angels to execute his wrath on all who know not God. [This has reference to the Gentiles who gave way to the gratification of every lust and evil desire. In speaking of heathenism, Paul declares that this ignorance of God was will- ful, that idolatry was the outcome of ungodliness, and that its wickedness was shown by the horrible depravity of morals it produced. It was, therefore, culpable in the highest degree and merited vengeance, being the ignorance of men who "re- fused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto

a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting

; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetous- ness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, ma- lignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent , haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to par- ents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natu- ral affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God

, thattheythatpractisesuchthingsareworthyofdeath, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them." (Rom. 1:28-32.) Such is the sentence that Paul pronounces on heathenism in view of its general character and

90 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:8, 9.

Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, eves eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he shall come to be

fruits. In this Paul had before his mind those Gentiles who refused the knowledge of God and showed their hatred toward his children.] and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus

:--[Theseareall, whetherJewsorGentiles, towhomthegospel of Christ is brought and who reject the message. Obedience is faith in practice, the submission of heart and life to the de- mands of the gospel of Christ. This is what such men refuse. This warning echoes that of Christ concerning all who are brought face to face with the gospel. They are warned: "He that disbelieveth shall be condemned." (Mark 16:16.) This condemnation takes effect at once, and operates in the present life: "He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believ- eth not hath been judged already, because he hath not be- lieved on the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil." (John 3:18, 19.) This sentence the Lord Jesus pronounces on those who, with his light shining upon them , refusehimtheobedienceoffaith. Thejudgmentofthelast day will be the consummation of this present actual judgment.] 9 who shall suffer punishment,--Those whom he comes to punish will be punished with a destruction from the presence

everlast-of the

in g. even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,--This is not a destruction of the souls of men, but they will be banished from the presence of the Lord. The bonds that unite them will be destroyed forever. They will never be restored. And away from God, with all the means of help and blessing from God severed, man will be the subject of misery and woe forever. The Scriptures are so clear on this point that it seems that none willing to receive the truth can doubt this. In making the punishment for sin a light matter, we make sin against God a trivial matter and derogate his honor, majesty, holiness, and power. The whole

Lord

and the glory of his power that shall be

1:9-11.]

SECOND THESSALONIANS 91

glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (be- cause our testimony unto you was believed) in that day. 11 To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil every 3desire of goodness andeveryworkoffaith, with

3Gr.

good pleasure of goodness.

Comp. Rom. 10. 1

trouble arises over a misconception of the meaning of death. Death does not mean annihilation, but separation of the spirit ,thevitalprinciple,fromthebody.Spiritualdeathmeansthe separation of the soul and body from God, the vitalizing prin- ciple of spiritual life. Eternal death is the final and everlasting separation of soul and body from the presence and glory of God. Thus separated, it is not annihilated. It is subject to perpetual and eternal suffering. Nothing looking toward an- nihilation is found in the Bible when we rightly use terms. This idea is not found in the Bible. Whence does it come? It comes from a disposition to mitigate rebellion against God ,andtofindlighterpunishmentthanGodhasprescribed. Why should this be done? Is man too fearful of sinning against God? Lighten the sin and ameliorate the suffering and will it then make men dread sin and rebellion more? We may well suspect our position and our spirit when we find our- selves excusing sin or ameliorating the woes that come from sin against God.

10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints,--Jesus

Christ will come again to take vengeance on his enemies and to receive glory and honor from all those who are redeemed through his blood and saved unto his everlasting kingdom.

and to be marvelled at in all them that believed--All those who believe in and trust him honor and praise him, but when they shall see him, as he comes in the clouds of glory with all his holy angels, to save those who have trusted him, their ad- miration for him will greatly abound. (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day. --He speaks to them of that which will come to believers be- cause they had believed his testimony concerning Jesus. And these promises are theirs.

11 To which end we also pray always for you, that our God

may count you worthy of your calling,--On account of the su- perior glory that will come to those who believe in him, Paul

92 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:11, 12.

power; 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

prayed constantly that God would count them worthy of the calling to which he had called them. [In the bestowal of re- ward, whether for suffering or for service, grace reigns. At best the servant is "unprofitable" (Luke 17:10), yet because it was in his heart to serve (1 Kings 8:18), and because he did what he could (Mark 14:8), using what was at his disposal (2 Cor. 8:12), according to the opportunity provided (Matt. 25 :15), God will reward him not according to the actual attain- ment or to the work accomplished, but according to the riches of his grace in Christ. Christians are to be holy, for God is

holy (1 Pet. 1:15); to be perfect, as their "heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48); to be "imitators of God, " since they are his "beloved children" (Eph. 5:1). Thus the expression

describes the ideal Christian life, the ideal of every

spiritually-minded person.] and fulfil every desire of goodness--[The word rendered "desire of goodness" is that which Paul uses when he says "My heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them

, that theymaybesaved"(Rom. 10:1), andiscommonlyused for desire, especially when the desire is a benevolent one. The prayer of Paul is that God would so increase their good- ness as to make these desires themselves perfect, irrespective of their results, and would enable them to maintain and per- fect that activity and endurance to which faith had prompted them. His mind still dwells on the grand graces--"work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope"--which they had displayed (1 Thess. 1:3), and for the two graces he prays for completion.] and every work of faith, with power;--The work was pecu- liar to their faith, by which it was characterized, inasmuch as it was something begun with energy and held fast with reso- luteness, in spite of all obstacles and oppositions. 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you ,--If Christians are thus faithful and worthy, then the name of Christ is glorified in them as his servants. When the servants of God are worthy, and are glorified in it, the Lord is glorified in them.

worthy

1:12.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 93

and ye in him,--When he is glorified all the true and faith- ful in Christ will be glorified in him. All this will be brought about through the provisions that God's love has made for making men righteous and saving them. according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.--All the grace of God is developed in, and magnified through, Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior.

94 COMMENTARY

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[2:1, 2.

SECTION TWO

THE LORD'S COMING TO BE PRECEDED BY THE LAWLESS ONE

2:1-17

1. WARNING AGAINST SUPPOSING THAT THE DAY OF THE LORD IS NOW PRESENT

2:1-12

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, 4touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; 2 to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or

4Gr. is behalf of 5Gr. presence

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of

our Lord Jesus Christ,--Paul presented in the preceding chap- ter the coming of the Lord, and the gathering of his people to him, and the judgments visited on the wicked, and the re- wards of the righteous. He had taught them in the first Epis- tle (5:2) that the day of the Lord should come as a thief in the night when they were not expecting him. It is now clear that some had taught that the day of the Lord would speedily come. Then, as now, the people were easily excited over this question, were excited and unfitted for the faithful perform- ance of everyday duties of Christians. Paul wrote this Epistle to correct the false teaching that had so excited them.

and our gathering together unto him;--[The word trans- lated "gathering together" occurs only once again in the New Testament, where it is used with reference to the assembling of Christians for worship. (Heb. 10:25.) Here it is used with reference to the assembling of believers to Christ, when he shall be revealed from heaven; it refers not to the raising of the dead, but the gathering together of the saints who are alive.]

2 to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind

, noryet betroubled,--Theyhadevidentlybeenexcitedby false impressions about the nearness of the Lord's coming

, andhadactedasmenwhohadlost theirsense, givinguptheir ordinary occupations and scandalizing sober-minded people. The word shaken marks that shaken and disquieted state of mind which was due to wild spiritual anticipations. To pre-

2:2-4.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 95

by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; 3 let no man beguile you in any wise; for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of 6sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 4 he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or 7that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the 8temple of God, setting himself forth

6Many ancient authorities read lawlessness

7Gr. an object of worship. 8Or, sanctuary

Acts 17. 23

vent this instability and disorder Paul now again writes to them.

either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand;--That they would not know when he would come was so clearly revealed that none of the things mentioned should move them on the subject. Just as he said: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." (Gal. 1:8.) In other words, the truth that none would or could know the time of his coming was so fixed that no one could truthfully say it could be known.

3 let no man beguile you in any wise:--[They were sur-

rounded by many influences tending either to lead them into error and delusion or into unbelief. Whatever device they might adopt--spirit, letter, or whatnot--they were deceivers or deceived; they were warned not to be deceived by them.]

for it will not be, except the falling away come first,--A widespread apostasy from God, on the part of his followers, was to arise within the church. The foundation principle of the falling away is the assumption of the right to change or modify the laws and commandments of God.

and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,--There has been much diversity in the religious world as to what is "the man of sin," "the son of perdition." Most Protestants say the Roman Catholic Church is the man of sin. I doubt if any organization is "the man of sin." A principle was at work that would set aside God's order and establish one of its own in its stead. It leads to ruin and perdition--is called the son of perdition.

4 he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is

called God or that is worshipped;--This principle under dif- fering circumstances works out different developments and

96 COMMENTARY

ON

[2:4, 5.

as God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these

organizations. The highest, the most sacred right, and pre- rogative that God has reserved to himself is the right to make laws for his kingdom and to rule it. This he jealously guards because it lies at the foundation of his claims to be God, and out of this grows all other claims. It requires as great au- thority to .repeal or change a law as it does to enact it; hence , the power that enacts laws for God's people repeals or changes the laws of God, exalts itself into a rival and an oppo- nent of God. so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.--Whoever or whatever claims the right to legislate for the children of God exalts himself or itself against all that is God and sits in the seat of God. This principle, that claims the right to change the order of God and to legislate for the church of God, is the man of sin. The principle develops dif- ferent bodies or forms, according to surrounding circum- stances. Roman Catholicism, I have no doubt, is one develop- ment or outgrowth of this man of sin. But the same principle manifests itself in many different forms in the history of the church. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?--The spirit of lawlessness was at work in Paul's day. The principle was just developing itself. It was not a grown man. It was really an unborn babe. It took sev- eral hundred years to grow into papacy. All the time back to Paul's day it was that same man of sin in different stages of growth. It was the same person in its essential nature and character from its conception until its complete development in the papacy. It is easy in history to trace it back to its ap- pearance at its birth. Its essential character was that it as- sumed the right to change and modify the order and appoint- ments of God to legislate for the kingdom of God. Wherever that principle is found, there the mystery of iniquity is. This is its one essential character. All organizations, institutions, and practices in the church that grow out of the exercise by man or men of this power are developments of the man of sin. Some one body, by pre-emi- nence in time or power, may be called the "man of sin, " but

2:5, 6.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 97

things? 6 And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness doth al-

all are of the same family, even though less pronounced in character. This principle has not confined itself to one church or to one development, but has made many and varied growths, each shaped by the conditions and surroundings of its growth. Whenever or wherever men in the church have added to, taken from, or changed the laws, institutions, or order God has ordained, there the man of sin is at work. The outgrowth of that principle, wherever found, is a development of the man of sin. 6 And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season.--The disposition to amend and change the appointments of God was at work and was restrained in its growth by Paul's authority as an apostle of the Lord; but when he was taken out of the way it had free course and developed rapidly. It is not difficult to trace its growth through the succeeding centuries, culminating in hier- archies for which God's word made no provision. But that principle is not confined to one or two churches. Its presence is manifest in a greater or lesser degree in all the churches, in the changes in the order of worship, in the ordinances of the church; and in the multiplication of societies and organiza- tions that seem for a time to add to its beauty and activity

, butwhichintheend, asparasites, sapthelifeoutofthe churches. This principle is manifest especially in the organi- zations of the churches themselves into societies and ecclesias- ticisms that first usurp the work of the churches and then con- trol them and come between man and God. God placed the churches as distinct congregations con- nected with each other only by the bonds of faith and love. The office of the congregation is in the ordinances and teach- ings to bring man into close and constant contact with God and to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility and near- ness to him. This condition will bring out all that is best in him and stir him to zeal in the service of God. God's service leads to doing good to man in his name. All added organiza- tions come between and separate man from God. They make his service a proxy service, which destroys his sense of ac-

98 COMMENTARY

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[2:6-8.

ready work: 9only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord 10Jesus shall 11slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the

9Or, only until he that now restraineth be taken &c. 10Some ancient authorities omit Jesus 11Some ancient authorities read consume

countability to God and weakens his zeal and devotion. Obedience to God's order as he gave it builds up his kingdom , andthesubstitutionofahumanorderdestroysit, and changes it into the "man of sin." All efforts to consolidate the churches into one organization for any purpose must be manifestations of this principle, and must result in the turning of the churches from fidelity to God. This was typified in the Jewish people. The consolidation of the people into one na- tion was rebellion against God, and resulted in their ruin as a people. No power should come between the churches of Christ and God. Any such breaks the sense of responsibility to God, and is the mystery of iniquity that sits in the seat of God, displeases him, and will bring ruin sooner or later to his church. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work:--The influence is called "the mystery of lawlessness" because it is not open in its work, is not seen, and is of the spirit that sets aside the law of God. It is not regulated by the law, has no law to guide or control it. It was already at work, spreading among the children of God, when this Epistle was written. only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way.--Paul, protesting against the lawless power , maintaining the sole authority of God in the work and wor- ship of the church, insisting that all should give heed to the things they had seen and learned of him, and should follow his instructions closely as he had followed Christ, was the re- straining power about to be taken out of the way. This ac- cords fully with Paul's style. (2 Cor. 12:1-16.) 8 And then shall be revealed the lawless one,--When Paul should be taken out of the way then this spirit of lawlessness would run riotously and carry the great body of Christians and churches into apostasy. whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth,--The breath of his mouth means his word. All this

2:8-10.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 99

manifestation of his 5coming; 9 even he, whose 5coming is according to the working of Satan with all 12power and signs and lying wonders, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that 13perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God

12Gr. power and signs and wonders of falsehood 13Or, are perishing

power to legislate, make, repeal, change the laws, add to the institutions that God has appointed is of "the man of sin." Taking the Roman Catholic hierarchy as the development of the man of sin, as I am sure it is, it will be seen that this mys- tery of lawlessness developed into the "man of sin" only after several hundred years' growth. But the principle was at work in the days of Paul and developed into activity soon after he was taken out of the way and grew into the great Romish hi- erarchy. Can we find the first developments of the man of sin? What it was in its childhood? We should understand this, lest we unconsciously nurse an infant of the same brood into life and vigor. and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming

;--[That is, assoonashiscomingshall bemademanifest. The very sight of the advancing King shall carry terror to the heart of his adversary and bring to utter ruin. The vision of him from afar shall be, as it were, instant destruction of his foes.] 9 even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,--Satan in the days of miracles wrought all forms and deceptions that unrighteousness could invent to lead to destruction those that obey him. When and where signs and lying wonders were performed, it is difficult to tell. In the age when Christ and the apostles and prophets wrought wonders, the devil and his emissaries did also. There were miracles of evil wrought in the early age of the church by the evil one as there were wrought by Jesus and his disciples. As these miracles of his disciples were said to follow them that believe do follow them as their heritage handed down from the early church, so also these miracles of evil wrought in the days of the early church. 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that per- ish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.--And this evil comes to the destruction of

100 COMMENTARY ON [2:10, 11.

sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:12 that they

those who disobey God, because when they learned the truth they did not receive it in the love of the truth. To receive it in the love of it was to receive it in the heart and obey it in all of its precepts: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3.) To love the truth is to obey it. To know the truth and not obey it is to "hinder the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18.) There is no more dan- gerous condition for man than for him to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do this is to harden the heart and make the condemnation sure. 11 And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error

,thattheyshouldbelievealie:--Whenoneknowsthetruth and refuses to obey it, he is a fit subject for following any de- lusion that sweeps over the land. The prophet teaches the same thing: "Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear but they did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not." (Isa. 66:3, 4.) This teaches plainly that when men know the truth, refuse to receive it in the love of it, refuse to obey it, they hold it in unrighteous- ness, and God sends strong delusions upon them that they should believe a lie. [Of all fatal effects of sin, none looks so dreadfully, none strikes so just an horror into considering minds as that every sinful action a man does naturally dis- poses him to do anything so ill, that it does not prove a pre- parative and introduction to the doing of something worse.] The number of men who are willing to work on either side of a question that will pay would be surprising to those not in position to know and who have not become accustomed to such things. It is the discouraging feature about the work of the churches today. So few men are willing to stand to their convictions--nay are willing to have convictions on any sub- ject that will interfere with their worldly success. But truth can never be maintained, save by those who are willing to honor their own convictions, cherish a keen sense of right, are afraid of the least participation in that which is wrong, and

2:11-13.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 101

all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in un- righteousness.

will honor and maintain the truth, let it cost what it may of popularity or private prosperity. Let us, then, drink deeply of the essence of the spirit of Christ. Without it the Christian religion cannot exist.

12 that they all might be judged who believed not the truth

,--To know the truth and refuse to obey it is not to believe it with the earnest living faith that God requires and blesses. If

a man at heart desires to do the whole will of God, God's will

in its fullness will be opened to him that he may do it. God does not cast pearls before swine. When a people desire not to do the will of God, God withdraws the knowledge of him- self from them. We may infer that when men wish to do only

a part of his will, he permits only partial knowledge of himself

to be known. This doubtless explains why so many professed Christians seem never able to see portions of the will of God ; they do not desire to do it all. They see only what they wish to do. "Blindness in part" has happened to those people. but had pleasure in unrighteousness.--Instead of that faith that works by love and obeys God in doing his will, they had pleasure in doing the things that were displeasing to him. [They are credulous of that which falls in with their evil incli- nation. Wicked men are of wickedness.]

2. RENEWED THANKSGIVING ON THEIR BEHALF AND PRAYER FOR THEIR COMFORT AND HOPE

2:13-17

13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you "from the beginning unto salva-

14Many ancient authorities read as

firstfruits

13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you

, brethrenbelovedoftheLord,--Paul feltboundtogivethanks to God for them because they pursued the opposite course from those who held the truth in unrighteousness. for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation --[From what time was it from which these persons were

102 COMMENTARY ON [2:13, 14.

tion in sanctification of the Spirit and 15belief of the truth: 14 whereunto he called you through our 16gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord

15Or, faith 16Gr. good tidings: see ch. 1. 8

chosen? As the choosing was "in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, " it is impossible that the choosing could have preceded the belief of the truth through which it was effected. Then it was the beginning of their spiritual life when they heard the gospel and became obedient to it--the time of their conversion.] in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:--All who hear and obey the truth as revealed by the Spirit through the inspired apostles are sanctified by the Spirit, and are God's chosen ones. Those who will not be thus guided refuse to let God sanctify them, for in so doing they reject the means God uses to accomplish that end. Many think to know the truth is sufficient; but the truth must be so received into the heart that it is warmed into life that it may assimilate the feelings and purposes of the heart to its needs in producing in the heart the new living plant of faith that bears the fruits of love and holiness. The seed that falls into the earth will remain barren and unfruitful unless it so comes into contact with the moisture and warmth of the soil as to excite to activity the germ of life within the seed. Then this aroused principle of life so appropriates to itself the strength and richness of the soil as to produce a new plant that will multiply the seed sown. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom sown in the heart; and when properly cherished, it appropriates all the better qualities to the growth of a spiritual plant that will abundantly multiply the seed sown. The great end, then, is not simply to get the seed sown --the word known--but to get it into the conditions that will energize the life principle and cause it to root and ground it- self in the heart and direct and appropriate all the feelings of the heart. This can be done by cherishing the word of God in the heart and seeking to have it permeate our whole being. 14 whereunto he called you" through our gospel,--God called all who believed the gospel that he might sanctify and purify and fit them to obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2:14, 15.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 103

Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.

to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

--Theywerecalledbythegospel toschool andfit themtoshare the glorious inheritance of the saints in light. [The glory of the saints will be complete and secure in the completeness of his glory. "We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (1 John 3

2 .)]

15 So then, brethren, stand fast,--Because they had been called by the gospel to this glorious end, he exhorts them to stand fast in the faith, and hold to the teaching they had re- ceived from him. and hold the traditions which ye were taught,--Traditions were handed down from one to another or taught, and is used in both a good and a bad sense in the Scriptures. The people were warned against the traditions of the elders which dis- placed and made void the commandments of God. Jesus said "Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradi- tion of men." (Mark 7:8.) The traditions that they had been taught by Paul, by word or letter, were the commandments which he had given to them. whether by word, or by epistle of ours.--[Traditions as used in this passage are the teachings and precepts which the inspired men taught as the precepts of God, whether they taught them by the word of mouth or by writing. Paul draws no distinction between oral and written tradition as was done later. The worth of tradition lies not in the form, but in the source and quality of the thing. Paul says: "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me." (1 Cor. 11:23, 24.) In this he was communicating to the church by epistle and stamps it with the authority of his spoken word. The sentence asserts the claim of the true apostolic teaching as against any who would beguile the church away from it. "Now I praise you that ye remember me in all

104 COMMENTARY

ON

[2:1547.

16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you." (1 Cor. 11:2.)]

16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father

who loved us--Paul commends them to God that they might be by him directly cheered and maintained in the evil day. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us." (1 John 4:10.) "Even when we were dead through our tres-

passes, made us alive together with Christ

and raised us

up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:5, 6.) "Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16.) and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace ,--Freely, not in discharge of obligation, but without restraint of any kind. Hope here describes the happy anticipation of good. The element of uncertainty with the consequent disap- pointment, which is the essence of all hope among men of the world, has no place in the hope of the faithful Christian. "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be man- ifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (1 John 3:2.)

17 comfort your hearts--Comfort implies more than the

merely external condition of enjoyment, exemption from an- noyance, or even relief from affliction; these are later and lesser meanings. To comfort was originally to impart strength, fortitude, cheerful energy, and in the passages in the

New Testament, the word should be understood in this sense. When we come thus to understand the word, it invests it with fresh significance. and establish them in every good work and word.--[Bring your Christian life to maturity and strength. The order is significant; practice should precede precept "that ye may be- come blameless and harmless, children of God without blem- ish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life." (Phil. 2:15, 16.) The phrase comprehends the whole Christian conduct, private and public.]

3:1.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 105

SECTION THREE

HORTATORY

3:1-18

1. REQUESTS PRAYERS FOR HIMSELF

3:1-5

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you; 2 and that we may be delivered from

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us,--Paul here shows his faith in the efficacy of true and earnest prayers of the Christians. [It was a strength to know that he was remembered by those who loved him in the presence of God. It was no selfish in- terest that he had in view when he asks a place in their prayers; it was in the interest of the truth with which he was identified. How much a Christian teacher's power, increasing as time goes on, comes from the accumulation of intercession from his spiritual children! Paul left Christians praying for him everywhere. (Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:18, 19

;Col.4:3.)Inallthesecasestherequestisforactivehelpin

his work of evangelizing.] that the word of the Lord may run--This evidently ex- presses the desire that they pray that the gospel might not meet with obstruction, but that it might be spread abroad with great rapidity. The gospel would spread rapidly in the world if all the obstructions that men have erected were re- moved; and he exhorts them to pray for their removal. and be glorified,--He was anxious that the gospel should not go halting and picking its steps, but like "a strong man to run his course, " overlapping all barriers and prejudice and ha- tred, may meet with no check in its onward course, but spread ever further and wider, from city to city, from country to country, till "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jeho- vah, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11:9.) even as also it is with you ,--The word was glorified among them by their receiving it as the word of God and trusting it. (1 Thess. 1:2-7.) It was glorified by the manifest influence it had on their conduct and by their work of faith and patience of hope.

106 COMMENTARY

ON

[3:2.

unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith. 3 But the Lord is faith-

2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men;--This clause is an amplification of the words "may run and be glorified." The impediments to the gospel progress were--except when they were overruled for good--such per- secutions as these. [When Paul expressly requests the Ephe-

sians (6:19, 20) and the Colossians (4:13) to pray that he may have boldness, and when God, on the very occasion of which Paul is now speaking, sees it needful to address him in the words, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee, " we need not scruple to ascribe to him so much apprehension of danger as would prompt him to ask the Thessalonians to pray for his deliverance. The actual circumstances in which Paul was

, and what the dangers were, may be learned from Acts 18:9-

17, this Epistle having probably been written during the latter part of Paul's residence in Corinth. It was perhaps in direct answer to the prayers for which Paul here asked that he re- ceived the vision of assurance of our Lord, and Gallio was moved to quash so abruptly the proceedings of the Jews.] for all have not faith.--In this the apostle refers to the Jews who boasted of their faith in the true God, who assumed to themselves the appellation of lovers of wisdom and truth. [But perhaps the Jews were not the most serious enemies of faith. It is not a want of susceptibility of faith in the most desperate class of sinners of which Paul speaks, but of the ac- tual destitution of faith in some to whom the gospel came. And the fact is stated in general terms as something that holds good, as with the force and regularity of a law wherever the gospel is preached. Perhaps these are the most serious enemies of faith. With many their hostility, often bitter in its tone and manifestly anxious to wound, creates a feeling of sorrow and shame rather than of alarm or doubt. They may do less harm that those who, without denying Christ, render him no true service. For these create an atmosphere or indif- ference to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his service. Unreasonable and wicked men may often escape public notice

, while the influence of their characters and lives is wholly hos- tile to faith. We need, then, to watch, not only against the

3:2-5.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 107

4 And we

have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the

things which we command. 5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the 2patience of Christ.

ful, who shall establish you, and guard you from 1the evil one.

1Or,evil

2Or, stedfastness

open and confessed adversary, but also against the un- suspected and secret source of danger.]

3 But the Lord is faithful,--While we cannot trust men

, God is faithful to his promises and purposes. We can always trust in him; and when men are unbelieving and perverse and disposed to do wrong, we can always go to him and always find in him one in whom we may confide. [We often come to know, to our deep sorrow and disappointment, that "all have not faith." We see how they turn away from the truth. Many who once gave promise of faith and zeal in the cause of Christ abandon it. At such times how consoling it is to be able to turn to the Lord who is faithful, and who never fails his devoted followers.] who shall establish you,--He will make you firm and stead- fast.

and guard you from the evil one.--He will keep you from all the evil these unbelieving men wish to bring upon you. [Their safety is insured by the Lord's fidelity, but it requires their own obedience.]

4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye

both do and will do the things which we command.--He had confidence that the Lord would so lead them that they both

then did and would continue to do what he commanded them to do.

5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God

,--TheLorddirectstheheartsofthosewhotrustandpraythe Lord to direct their hearts. He prays also that their hearts may be willing to receive and act upon the directions the Lord gives. These Christians already cherished the love of God in their hearts more and more into the reception of that love which moves God. Paul's desire was that they should have the same love that God had, and unto the patient waiting under the evil threatened, that marked the course of Christ.

108 COMMENTARY

ON

[3:5-7.

and into the patience of Christ.--Christ was patient under all trials and persecutions. Paul desired that Christians might love as God loved man and be patient under all persecutions as Christ was in his.

2. DIVERS EXHORTATIONS, AUTOGRAPHIC ATTESTATION, AND BENEDICTION

3:6-18

, 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditionwhich3they receivedof us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand, but in labor

3Some ancient authorities read ye

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,--To do a thing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is to do it for him and as he directs. Do it by his au- thority; do it as his servant, for his honor and glory. that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walk- eth disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us.--To walk disorderly was to violate any of the teachings they had heard from the apostle. He had given the true teachings of God, and any other walk was disorderly. From these disorderly persons he commands all Christians to with-draw themselves. (Verse 14.) The withdrawing from them meant more than a public announcement of the elders--that "ye withdraw" from them. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;--Paul endured all the trials and sufferings, but never sought deliverance from any of them. Probably the most intense suffering that he en- dured was the anxiety and care for the churches; the sympa- thy he had for the weak, the anxiety for maintaining the truth, and the deep anguish and sorrow he felt over the Chris- tians turning from the truth. I can claim this much in com- mon with Paul, the most oppressive care that comes upon me ,thedeepestsufferingIendure,faraboveallphysicalpain,is the anxiety I have to see the children of God stand firm to his truth, the oppressive sorrow that comes to my soul, when I see those who know the truth lightly turn from it and from

3:7-9.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 109

and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you:9 not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we

God to the weak and beggarly institutions and provisions of men. These things certainly being true, the apostles and their associates are examples to all others for all times and all coun- tries as to how the truth of God is to be spread abroad.

8 neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand

,--When an evil prevailed, Paul was ready to show his condem- nation of it by both precept and example. Because of their sin in this direction he was more careful to set them an exam- ple of industry that he might not be dependent upon them. That prevented his being an example to others in his labor in spreading the gospel.

but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you:--This he did lest his influence should be weakened and the gospel hindered. Of his course at Corinth he said: "When I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want ;andineverythingIkeptmyselffrombeingburdensomeunto you, and so will I keep myself." (2 Cor. 11:9.) He certainly intended this to be an example to the preachers as well as to others, and shows that he did not regard his inspiration as placing him on a plane that prevented his being an example to others in his labor of spreading the gospel.

I do not believe he intended this as an example to others , that they were not allowed to accept help in their preaching , for he here asserts his right to receive help and in other pas- sages reproves Christians for not aiding him, and approves them for helping him as a means of securing their own salva- tion so as to place it beyond doubt that a teacher may receive help and that it is a duty, the neglect of which imperils their salvation, laid on Christians to help him who teaches the word.

9 not because we have not the right,--[Paul had the right of

maintenance from the churches among whom he labored, but for the sake of those who became obedient to give them an ex- ample of diligent working, and to remove every impediment

110 COMMENTARY

ON

[3:9-11.

commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. 11 For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busy-

to the progress of the gospel, he often waived his rights. This he did at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:6, 9); at Corinth (Acts 18:3; 2 Cor. 11:9); and at Ephesus (Acts 20:34); in all these places he labored for his maintenance as a tentmaker.] but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us.--He says this to encourage them to cultivate a habit of industry and self-reliance, that he might cast out the disposition of idleness and begging, which are wholly incom- patible with the spirit of Christ. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat.--There was and is no obligation resting on a Christian or a church to help or feed an idle, lazy sponge who is able to work. This is true of both men and women. The obligation is imperative to help the helpless. Christ is personified in these. In so doing we help Christ. But Christ never was personified in an individ- ual, man or woman, able but unwilling to work for a living. Christ has no sympathy for such people, every true Christian

, likePaul, isunwillingtobeatax, tobeaburdenuponothers when it is possible to help self. Cases present themselves fre- quently that are difficult to determine what to do. An able- bodied, lazy father and husband leaves a worthy and strug- gling wife and children to suffer. It is impossible to help them without helping him in his laziness. One course seems right in this case to relieve the personal and present needs of the wife and children as far as possible, show a sympathy for them, and withhold from him, while dealing candidly and firmly with him. It will work a cure if anything will. [Paul saw that the gospel was to be propagated chiefly by its splendid effects on the lives of all classes of society, and he realized that almost the first duty of the church was to be re- spected, and so he not only exhorts the individual members to independence, but he lays down the principle that no eco- nomic parasite is to be tolerated in the church. This forms an important complement to the teachings of Jesus.] 11 For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly

,--[Thisexplainshowhecametospeakuponthetopic.

3:11, 12.] SECOND THESSALONIANS 111

bodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Hitherto he has only been giving directions without assigning any reason for so doing. It was not simply that he heard that there were such persons at Thessalonica; he knew about them, who they were and how they were deporting them- selves. Further word had reached him since the first Epistle was written. (1 Thess. 4:11; 5:14.) Now he singles out the offenders and severely censures them.] that work not at all, but are busybodies.--Busybodies are busy only with what is not their own business. This is, as a matter of fact, the moral danger of idleness in those who are not otherwise vicious. "And withal they learn also to be idle , going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tat- tlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." (1 Tim. 5:13.) [Where men are naturally bad, it multi- plies temptations and opportunities for sin; Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do. But even where it is the good who are concerned, as in the passage before us, idleness has its perils. The busybody is a real character, who, having no steady work to do, which must be done whether liked or dis- liked, and is therefore lonesome, is very apt to meddle with other people's affairs; and meddle, too, without thinking it is meddling. One who is not disciplined and made wise by reg- ular work has no idea of its moral worth and opportunities nor has he, as a rule, any idea of the moral worthlessness and vanity of such an existence as his own.] 12 Now them that are such we command--He directs this command, though indirectly and in the third person, to those very persons; it was to be expected that all would be present at the reading of this Epistle (1 Thess. 5:27), and that all would be listening to it. The term command is a severe word and is used four times in this chapter. (Verses 4, 6, 10.) and exhort--This word would break the seeming sternness

, andintroducesthegroundsonwhichtheappeal wasmade.

in the Lord Jesus Christ,--When Paul was in Thessalonica he taught them what their daily life should be in order to please God; and he exhorted them, as those who abode to- gether in living fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that

112 COMMENTARY ON [3:12-14.

13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing. 14 And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with

now they should more and more strive to excel therein. (1 Thess. 4:1.) that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

--Paul hadalreadybiddenthesemischief-makerstoquietlydo their own work and eat their own bread (1 Thess. 4:11), and not that of their honest and laborious brethren. Honesty, in- dustry, attention to one's own business, freedom from tattling ,andmischief-makingarecardinalandessentialvirtuesinthe religion of Jesus Christ. To follow these adds so much to the happiness of a community.

13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.--While

Paul commands all who are able to eat their own bread, be quiet, and not meddle, he cautions them not to cease to render assistance to the needy, to do good to all, as the opportunity affords. This is in perfect harmony with the foregoing in- structions. Nothing discourages giving to the needy like hav- ing the lazy and meddlesome seeking support.

14 And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle

,--Paul makesobediencetothethingsheteachesinthisEpistlea test of discipleship. He did the same in the first Epistle. (4 :3-7.) He did this because he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to obey that which was thus taught is to obey God. note that man,--The first step was to discriminate between those who obeyed and those who did not. The second was to note him as disobedient. that ye have no company with him,--Refuse him that social companionship that would encourage him in the wrong way. While refusing to regard him as walking as an orderly Chris- tian should, they were yet to admonish him as a brother to re- turn to an orderly walk in the Lord. to the end that he may be ashamed.--While they were re- quired to keep no company with them, they were not to count him as an enemy, but to entreat and admonish him as a brother. The apostle says: "I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator,

3:14-17.J SECOND THESSALONIANS 113

him, to the end that he may be ashamed. 15 And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all. 17 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in

or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat." (1 Cor. 5:11.) Discipline consists in admonishing, warning, and persuading ;inseparatingthemforatimefromthefellowshipofthe church, yet continuing to admonish as a brother before the final exclusion comes. Cutting one off is not discipline; it is the end and failure of discipline. The steps taken to save one is the discipline.

15 And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him

as a brother.--[Though deprived of church privileges, and shut out from fellowship with the members of the church, he was not to be counted hopeless. This discipline was to be ex- pected to terminate in his repentance and restoration. And for this end, he was to be admonished as a brother.] 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.--The Lord of peace signifies not only that he can bestow peace, but also and primarily that it is his own tribute. He has peace because he sees the end from the begin- ning, and is unassailable in his righteousness and sovereignty. He gives his own peace by enabling men to rely upon him, to accept his will--that will which shall certainly be accom- plished--and by lifting them up above anxiety into his own security.

The Lord be with you all.--[The prayer is based upon the promises of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 18:20; 28:20), and accords with his name--"and they shall call his name Immanuel

;whichis,beinginterpreted,Godwithus"(Matt.1:23),and

indeed, just a short while before this Epistle was written Paul had heard the Lord say unto him: "I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee" (Acts 18:10. Thus with the comfort wherewith he himself had been comforted, Paul sought to comfort others. (2 Cor. 1:4.)]

17 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand,--Paul's

letters were usually written by an amanuensis. These last

114 COMMENTARY ON [3:17, 18.

every epistle; so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

few verses, that he calls the salutation, or expression of his personal feelings in and for them, were written by his own hand. which is the token in every epistle: so I write.--This is given in every letter as the token of his love for them. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.--In the Epistle to the Colossians it was: "Grace be with you." In that to the Galatians it was: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren." But it was a solemn in- vocation of grace which Paul always wrote with his own hand. With this invocation of grace he begins and with this he ends. For the one thing which he held was that all men needed to make them holy and happy here and hereafter is grace.

COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY

CONTENTS

 

Page

INTRODUCTION

119

PART FIRST

INTRODUCTORY (1:1-20) 123

SECTION ONE

REMINDER OF THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH TIMOTHY WAS LEFT AT EPHESUS (1:1-11) 123

1. Address and Salutation (1:1-2) 123

2. Charge Respecting the Misuse of the Law (1:3-11) 124

SECTION TWO

EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE TO CHRIST WHO HAD EN- TRUSTED HIM WITH THE MINISTRY AS A PROOF OF GOD'S LONG-SUFFERING AND AS ENCOURAGING TO

(1:12-17) 130

SECTION THREE REITERATION OF THE CHARGE TO TIMOTHY AND EN- FORCEMENT OF IT (1:18-20) 134

PART SECOND

FORMAL INSTRUCTIONS (2:1 to 6:2) 137

SECTION ONE

GENERAL REGULATIONS OF CHURCH LIFE (2:1 to 3:16) 137

1. The Proper Scope of Public Prayer (2:1-7) 137

OTHERS

2. The Position of Men and Women in Public Prayer (2:8-15) 141

3. Qualifications of Elders and Deacons (3:1-13) 145

4. The Character of the Church and Its Head (3:14-16) 151

SECTION TWO

PERSONAL INSTRUCTION TO TIMOTHY (4:1 to 6:2) 155

1. Apostasy Foretold (4:1-5) 155

2. With Regard to His Own Teaching and Conduct (4:6-16) 158

3. With Regard to His Dealing with Classes of People (5:1 to 6:2) 163 (1) Concerning Widows (5:1-16) 163 (2) Concerning Elders (5:17-25) 170 (3) Concerning Servants (6:1, 2) 175

SECTION THREE

CONCLUSION (6:3-21) 178

1. Warnings Against Disputations and Covetousness (6:3-10) 178

2. Fight the Good Fight of Faith (6:11-16) 182

3. Charge to the Rich (6:17-19) 187

4. Final Charge to Timothy and Benediction (6:20, 21) 188

APPENDIX 305

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY

I. LIFE OF TIMOTHY

Timothy was a native of Lystra. (Acts 16:1-3.) He had been carefully instructed in "the sacred writings" by his pious mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, and trained in the knowledge and observance of the same. (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14

, 15.) He became obedient to the gospel under the preaching

of Paul during his first missionary journey. (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:2.) On the second missionary journey (A.D. 51-54) Timothy, being commended by the brethren that were at Lys- tra and Iconium, was selected by Paul as his assistant in the work of the Lord, and after his circumcision (Acts 16:3) was set apart to that work. Thenceforward he remained the be- loved and trusted friend and fellow laborer with Paul and companion with him in all the perils and labors and triumphs of his marvelous career. Among the last words of Paul, writ- ten just before his death, these were addressed to his true and faithful "child" in the gospel.

Frequent mentions of Timothy are found in Acts of Apos- tles and Paul's Epistles. From Lystra he accompanied Paul through Asia Minor to Macedonia and assisted in planting the gospel in Philippi (Phil. 2:22) and probably in Thessalonica. At Berea he was with Paul and probably accompanied him to Athens, thence he was sent back to Thessalonica to assist, to instruct, and strengthen the young congregation there. (1 Thess. 3:2.) On leaving there he went with Silas to Corinth

, whereheassistedintheestablishment of thegospel, asalsoin

the neighboring cities of Achaia. (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6.) His name, with that of Silas, is associated with Paul's in 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 2:1, and his service in that city is men- tioned with high commendation. On Paul's third missionary journey he is again seen with him at Ephesus, and near the close of the three years spent there, he was sent to Macedonia and Achaia on a special mis- sion to the churches in those regions. (Acts 19:21, 22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10, 11.) Returning, he was with Paul in Macedonia

120 INTRODUCTION

--probably in the autumn of A.D. 57--when the Epistle to the Corinthians was written (2 Cor. 1:1), and in the following winter he was laboring with Paul at Corinth, when the Epistle to the Romans was written, as he there writes in the saluta- tions sent to the church in Rome (Rom. 16:21). On Paul's return eastward through Macedonia, Timothy was in the com- pany that preceded him from Philippi and waited for him at Troas. (Acts 20:4.) His subsequent course at this time is not indicated. It is not certain whether he accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, and was with him during the two years' imprisonment at Caesarea and the voyage to Rome. But he was with him during his first Roman imprisonment--A.D. 61-63--as he is mentioned with glowing eulogy in some of the Epistles written at that time (Col. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Phile. 1); and Paul speaks of his intention of sending him to Philippi for the comforting of the church there (Phil. 2:19-23). It was probably at this time that Timothy suffered imprisonment at Rome (Heb. 13:23) , and possibly there in the presence of the imperial court con- fessed the "good confession in the sight of many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6:12). After Paul's release from his first imprison- ment at Rome--A.D. 63 or 64--Timothy's movements, like those of Paul's, are not certainly known; but in A.D. 65 or 66 he was with Paul at Ephesus, and on Paul's passing into Mac- edonia, Timothy was left behind to act in Paul's stead during his absence. (1 Tim. 1:3.) The separation seems to have been deeply sorrowful to Timothy, who trembled in view of the responsibility thus placed upon him. (2 Tim. 1:4.) At a later period--in the fall of A.D. 67--Paul, then a prisoner at Rome, wrote the second Epistle to Timothy, charging him to hasten his coming to Rome and gave to him his farewell coun- sels. Beyond this nothing is certainly known concerning Timothy. Whether he reached Rome before Paul's execution ,andwaspresenttocheerhiminhisclosinghours,isnot known. Tradition says he suffered martyrdom. The character of Timothy as set forth in the Scriptures is one of rare beauty. There is not an intimation in the divine record that there was ever a failure of his faith. From his call at Lystra to the end of his earthly sojourn there is not an inti-

INTRODUCTION 121

mation of his swerving from the faith revealed in the gospel , never a shrinking from the post of duty and danger of suffer- ing, and never of failing in fidelity to the trust committed to him or in love and loyalty to Paul.

II. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE

After Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment, he went to Ephesus, where he left Timothy to set in order the things that were lacking. There were two sources of anxiety to the apostle: (1) False teachers had arisen in the church --Jewish in their origin--desiring to be teachers of the law , whose teaching was accompanied by a debased ethical stan- dard and a factious and disorganizing spirit. (2) The other which gave him great concern was the practical administra- tion of the work of the church. The position of Timothy was one of great and delicate responsibility, and it was especially important that his right to act should be fully authenticated by the apostle, and that he be given clear and explicit instruc- tions for his guidance. Paul, therefore, after reaching Mace- donia, writes and sends his Epistle to him, which, while adapted for this immediate end, was also especially suited to be an infallible guide for church activity throughout all future ages. The affecting circumstances in which Paul himself was placed carry home to every earnest heart his impassioned elo- quence.

III. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING

This Epistle was written to Timothy in the year 66 or 67 as Paul was passing through Macedonia, possibly at Philippi or Corinth.

COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY

PART FIRST INTRODUCTORY

1:1-20

SECTION ONE

REMINDER OF THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH TIMOTHY WAS LEFT AT EPHESUS

1:1-11

1. ADDRESS AND SALUTATION 1:1, 2

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our hope 2 unto Timothy, my true child in faith: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus--Paul begins this Epistle as usual by declaring his apostleship. This Epistle was an af- fectionate reminder from Paul, "the aged, " to Timothy to be steadfast in the faith in the midst of the many dangers to which he would be exposed in the city of Ephesus. according to the commandment of God our Saviour,--It was a commandment from God to resist the powerful school of false teaching which had arisen in the Ephesian church. So Paul prefaces the Epistle by designating himself as an apostle according to the Holy Spirit who said: "Separate me Barna- bas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (Acts 13:2.) The designation "God our Saviour" fitly de- scribes him in reference to his redeeming love through his Son Jesus Christ. and Christ Jesus our hope;--Christ Jesus gave hope to man. He died for him, opened the way for him to return to God , andgavehimhopeoflifebeyondthegrave. (Eph. 2:12.)

2 unto Timothy, my true child, in faith:--No fleshly rela- tionship existed between the two, but a closer and far dearer connection. Paul had taken him while yet a very young man to be his companion and fellow laborer. (Acts 16:3.) Of

124 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:2-4.

him, in the Epistle to the Philippian church, he said: "I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state." (2 :20.) On another occasion he said: "Now if Timothy come

, seethat hebewithyouwithout fear; forheworkeththework

of the Lord, as I also do: let no man therefore despise him." (1 Cor. 16:10, 11.) Paul taught him as a son, and Timothy looked to him as a father in the gospel. The relationship of father and son was restricted to faith. Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.--Grace is the highest good for the guilty; mercy for the suffering is grace in action; and peace comes from God through the mediation of Jesus Christ.

2. CHARGE RESPECTING THE MISUSE OF THE LAW

1:3-11

3 As I exhorted thee to tarry at Ephesus, when I was going into Mace- donia, that thou mightest charge certain men not to teach a different doc- trine, 4 neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister

3 As I exhorted thee to tarry at Ephesus, when I was going

into Macedonia,--When Paul left Ephesus, he left there to re- strain certain teachers who taught differently from Paul. that thou mightest charge certain men not to teach a differ- ent doctrine,--The teachers were doubtless the Judaizers who insisted that the Gentiles could not be saved unless they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses.

4 neither to give heed to fables--As a part of this Judaizing

spirit they gave much attention to Jewish fables, imaginary occurrences, that constituted a part of the traditions of the elders handed down from generation to generation. The Tar- gums, the Jewish sacred books written by the rabbis, are largely composed of these. and endless genealogies,---The Jews laid much stress upon their ability to trace a distinct and unbroken genealogical line to Abraham. This care on this point was instilled by Moses and others of the prophets. This was done (1) so that the possessions of the different tribes might be kept in the fam- ilies , (2) that the Levites might be kept separate who alone were to minister to sacred things; (3) that the lineage of the Messiah might be kept clear and distinct. Down to the com- ing of Jesus these genealogies were correctly kept. Since that

1:4.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

125

questionings, rather than a 1dispensation of God which is in faith;

1Or, stewardship. See 1 Cor. 9. 17

so do I

time they seem to be so involved in confusion that no Jew is able to tell to which tribe he belongs. It is said that all ge-

nealogical tables that had hitherto been preserved so carefully were destroyed by Herod the Great because he was an Idu- maen, seeking to establish a hereditary rule over the Jews

, couldnot establishalinebacktoAbraham; andashecould

not, he destroyed the advantages that these tables gave the children of Abraham over him. Whatever personal motives may have actuated him, the de- struction of the tables, when the divine purposes of their es- tablishment had ended, must be regarded as providential. They had ended because the land of Canaan would no longer be the home of the children of Israel, the Levitical priesthood had served its purpose in bringing forward its nation to Jesus Christ, the end of the law had come. The Jewish family as a distinct people of God, the Levitical priesthood, and the genealogy of Jesus, all like the law, were added because of transgression till the promised Messiah should come. Were the Messiah to come now, as the Jews claim he is yet to come, his lineage could not be set forth. The rabbis say these tables of genealogy are to be restored by the Messiah when he comes. But any table restored by a person who is himself the chief beneficiary of the table would rest under sus- picion. The Jews among the Christians, especially among the Judaizers of Paul's day, were given to seeking out these gene- alogies, as though they were to receive great good from them. which minister questionings,--These genealogies and fables are held in great aversion because they cause much disputing ,wrangling,andstrife.

rather than a dispensation of God which is in faith; so do I now.--[In the dispensation of God's love as manifested through faith in Christ is the only way of approach to the mercies of God, while these genealogies were uncertain and produced no faith; it was necessary, therefore, to impress upon all who were seeking salvation in any way other than through faith in Christ that it was vain.]

126 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:5.

sow. 5 But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned:6 from which things some having 2swerved

2 Gr. missed the mark. ch. 6. 21;

2 Tim. 2. 18

5 But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned:--The purpose and end of God's law is that man may be led to do God's will out of a

pure heart and with a good conscience and faith unfeigned. It takes all three of these conditions to make service accepta- ble to God. A man without a pure heart, a good conscience

, andfaiththat isunfeignedcannot doacceptableserviceto

God. Men harden their hearts and sear their consciences by doing what their consciences condemn. A man who thus vio- lates and corrupts his conscience cannot do acceptable services to God. While the good conscience may lead men to violate the will of God, run counter to his teaching, it cannot serve God without it is kept pure. A man's conscience is defiled

, blinded, searedbydoingwhat heknowsiswrongorrefusing

to do what he knows is right. There is no more dangerous condition in which a man can place himself than to habitually do what he knows to be wrong or refuse to do what he knows to be right. Of the same nature is the expression "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Rom. 14:23.) This Scripture is usually ap- plied in a sense differing from the meaning of the apostle. Its use is not one hurtful in its nature, or out of harmony with the Scriptures, and it grows out of the true meaning of the apostle in this text. The meaning clearly is that of doing a thing as an act of worship, in reference to which we have doubts, we condemn ourselves. That is, we cannot violate conscience; if it has doubts, they must be respected. The convictions of our hearts must be honored. God accepts nothing as worship that is not done heartily with full faith. The inference is clear that one who habitually violates his convictions of right soon loses all sense of right ,hardenshisheart,andmakeshisreformationimpossible.The old philosopher who averred his ability to move the world, if he only had a fulcrum on which to rest his lever, expressed a universal, necessary truth. In the material world the lightest particle of matter cannot be moved without a fulcrum on

1:5-7.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

127

have turned aside unto vain talking; 7 desiring to be teachers of the law ,thoughtheyunderstandneitherwhattheysay,norwhereoftheyconfidently affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if -a man use it lawfully, 9 as

which to rest the lever that moves it. It is equally true in morals. No movement of our moral sense or action can take place without a moral fulcrum on which to rest the lever of truth which moves it. That fulcrum is the sense of right in human nature. If it is destroyed, there is no starting point to correct man's moral and spiritual errors. Hence, Paul found mercy because he did his evil in ignorant unbelief; his con- science was good, pure, active; his sense of right was keen and sensitive. There is always hope of such men; God has respect for them. But when a man trifles with his convictions , does violence to his conscience, holds the truth in unright- eousness--that is, does not practice what he knows to be right, especially if he practices what he knows to be wrong --he corrupts his own moral nature, destroys his sense of right

, andcutsoffall possibilityofhisturning. Inmanyevil ways is this protesting against wrong, yet encouraging the wrong ,manifested.

6 from which things some having swerved have turned

aside unto vain talking;--These words teach that those teach- ers had once been in the right way, but had not remained in it; indeed, it is clear that these persons, not only had been, but were still reckoned among the members of the Ephesian church, and were engaged in disputations that brought no

good to anyone.

7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand

neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm.--

[They coveted the respect and influence which was ever paid to the acknowledged teachers of the law of Moses: but they utterly failed to understand the real meaning of that law. This same class of teachers was in the church at Smyrna, of whom it is said: "I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." (Rev. 2:9.)] These persons aspired to be teachers of the law of Moses, but they did not see that the law of Moses ended in Christ and was taken out of the way by him.

128 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:8-10.

knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for 1murderers of fathers and 1murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for for- nicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for

1Or, smiters

8 But we know that the law is good,--Paul, while affirming

this of those who aspired to teach the law, showed his respect for the law.

if a man use it lawfully,--Those who did not see that the law ended in Christ and was taken out of the way by him un- derstood neither the law nor its aim and end.

9 as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man

,--The righteous man is one made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, and does not need the Mosaic law with its earthly pen- alties to govern him. but for the lawless and unruly,--These refuse to be bound by any law, and submit to no higher authority. for the ungodly and sinners,--[These have no reverence for God, and are such as God disapproves; are marred or polluted by sin, separated from God, so as to be openly hostile to him.] for the unholy and profane,--Those who do not regard that which is sanctified or made holy by God, but profane his most sacred institutions. [Those who are impious or scoffers. One who treats the will of the Lord with contempt, mockery, or scorn.]

for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers,--Often when the parents become. old and burdensome they are killed by their children to be free from the trouble that the care of them imposes on them. [We can conceive nothing superior to this in enormity, and yet such crimes have been committed.]

for manslayers,--Those who commit murder. [A crime against which all nature revolts. This sanctity of human life is founded on the fact that man was made in the image of God.] 10 for fornicators,--Illicit intercourse of unmarried persons

;alsosuchintercourseofanunmarriedpersonwithapersonof the opposite sex, whether married or unmarried. for abusers of themselves with men,--"Carnal copulation between male persons."--Sodomy.

1:10, 11.] FIRST TIMOTHY

129

false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the 2sound 3doctrine;11accordingtothe4gospel ofthegloryoftheblessedGod, which was committed to my trust.

2Gr. healthful 3Or, teaching 4Gr. good tidings. See Mt. 4. 23 marg.

for menstealers,--Those who carry on a traffic in human flesh, or those who steal a person in order to sell him into bondage, or those who buy such stolen men or women, no matter of what color or what country. All these were men- stealers, and God classed them with the most flagrant mortals. The guilt of manstealing was incurred essentially by those who purchased those who were thus stolen. for liars,--They who speak for truth for what they know to be false. for false swearers,--Those who deliberately swear to that which is false, and then prove false to their oath. and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doc- trine;--The law of Moses with its penalties was given to re-

strain, check, and punish those guilty of these sins, and not to

[Sound

admirably describes the teaching as Paul conceived it in its

complete freedom from any doubt as to right and wrong ac- cording to the instruction given to them as he was moved by the Holy Spirit.] 11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God

rule those delivered from sin by faith in Christ Jesus.

, which was committed to my trust.--The gospel of the Lord

Jesus Christ, the standard by which everything is to be tested

, andthelawof Moseswasmadeforthosewhodonot obeythe

teachings of the gospel which was committed to Paul, which

he had preached.

130 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:12, 13.

SECTION TWO

EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE TO CHRIST WHO HAD ENTRUSTED HIM WITH THE MINISTRY AS A PROOF OF GOD'S LONG-SUFFERING AND AS ENCOURAGING TO OTHERS

1:12-17

12 I thank him that 5enabled me, Christ evenJesusourLord, forthat he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service; 13 though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; howbeit I obtained mercy be- cause I did it ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord abounded

5Some ancient authorities read enableth

12 I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord,--Christ Jesus selected Paul for fidelity to his con- science, his sincere desire to obey God, and his willingness to die for what he believed to be right. God always respects the man who keeps a good conscience and is true to his convic- tions. for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his ser- vice;--God honored Paul's faithfulness to his convictions and readiness to die for what he believed to be the will of God , thoughinerror, ratherthanthemanwhobelievedonhim, yet did not confess him because he feared the Pharisees. God knows the man who is true to his own conscience, and for this reason Christ Jesus counted Paul worthy and placed him in the ministry of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. 13 though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:--There was no disposition with Paul to conceal his wrongs--he was open and free to confess them--that he might thereby magnify the mercy and goodness of God. So he says he was a blasphemer. To blaspheme is to speak re- proachfully, rail at, revile, and calumniate. Paul sought the destruction of the whole church of God. Luke says: "But Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the dis- ciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and asked of him letters to Damascus unto the synagogues, that if he found any that were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1, 2.) When they were placed on trial, he gave his voice for their death.

1:13-16.] FIRST TIMOTHY

131

exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief:16 howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffer-

howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief;--This clearly implies that had he persecuted the church as he did knowing it was the church of God, no pardon for him could be found. This accords exactly with the cases of Judas and Pilate and the mob that crucified Jesus. To commit these sins consciously was to forever bar the gates of mercy to them. To them believing they were serving God or with a good conscience left the way open for repentance and pardon to them. But certainly being true to conscience did

not secure salvation, else those who crucified the Lord were in

a saved state when they were crucifying him, else Paul was in

a saved state while breathing out the threatenings and slaugh-

ter against all who called on the name of the Lord Jesus. But Paul, because he "did it ignorantly in unbelief, " believing that

Jesus was not the Son of God, but that he was an impostor ,obtainedmercy.

14 and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with

faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.--He here expresses

his gratitude and joy for the exceeding abundant mercy and grace of God that saved him, which was brought through the faith and love which he had in Christ.

15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;--To believe

and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God

,whocameintotheworldtosavesinners,isafaithfulandtrue

saying, and is worthy of being confessed by all. of whom I am chief:--Paul speaks of himself as the chief of sinners before God. He had been in captivity, and is showing that the grace of God is sufficient to save the worst of sinners who would accept it in faith and love. He held himself as a sample of mercy as the chief of sinners. He was the chief of sinners not because he had been guilty of conscious, willful sin, but because he had been more active and fierce in his de- termination to destroy the church of God, believing that by so doing he was rendering service to God.

132 COMMENTARY ON [1:16, 17.

ing, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eter- nal life. 17 Now unto the King 6eternal, 7immortal, invisible, the only God ,honorbeandgloryforeverandever. Amen.

6Gr. of the ages. Comp. Heb. 1. 2; Rev. 15. 3 7Gr. incorruptible 8Gr. unto the ages of the ages

16 howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,--Notwithstand- ing the intensity of his bitterness, and his active zeal in de- stroying Christians, he had obtained mercy. God had for- given him, that in him Christ should show forth all his long- suffering. Christ in him led him to bear the persecutions and the suffering he had inflicted on others. that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering,--Paul had been chief of sinners in persecuting Christ. He now must be chief or first among those who suffer for him. He labored and suffered for Christ more than all the other apostles. Of himself he says: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of riv- ers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in per- ils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wil- derness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:23-27.) Paul was of an intense temperament and of the heroic mold that fitted him to inflict suffering on others, and bear it him- self for what he believed to be right. He had inflicted it on others. for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life.--Jesus chose Paul that in him he might bear sufferings for him and others. In him God desired to set forth the pattern of sufferings that men, who should thereaf- ter believe in him to everlasting life, should be willing to bear. The future world will be peopled with those of the true heroic spirit, who counted it all joy to suffer for right and uphold the truth.

l:17.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

133

17 Now unto the King--Paul esteemed it an honor and a glory to him to be chosen to suffer as Jesus had suffered, thus to be made like Jesus in his sufferings, for it brought the as- surance that he would be made like him in immortal glory. So he bursts forth in this ascription of praise to God. God is the King, Ruler of the universe. eternal,--There is no end to his reign and glory. immortal,--God is immortal in contrast with the beings of this earth. invisible,--He is invisible in contrast with visible things of creation. the only God,--The only true and real God. be honor and glory for ever and ever.--Let him be honored and glorified unto the age of the ages. Amen.--This denotes the solemn ascent of the heart to the sentiment conveyed by the foregoing words.

134 COMMENTARY

ON

[1:18, 19.

SECTION THREE

REITERATION OF THE CHARGE TO TIMOTHY AND ENFORCEMENT OF IT

1:18-20

18 This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare; 19 holding faith and a good conscience , which some having

18 This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy

,--Thechargeistowithstandandcorrecttheerrorsofthefalse teachers. (Verse 3). The sum of the charge was that men should put their whole trust in Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, and who alone was able to lead them into everlasting life. The charge was the last heritage ,thepricelesstreasurewhichPaul,feelingthatforhimtheend was not far distant, would leave to Timothy. Anxious above measure for the churches in Asia, of which Ephesus was the center, foreseeing that the perils and dangers from within and without would rapidly close round the congregations, and placing his greatest earthly hope on the steadfastness and knowledge of Timothy, he charged him, by the memory of the prophetic utterances which years before had been made con- cerning him (Acts 17:1, 2), to hold fast the doctrine which taught men to put their trust in Jesus Christ. according to the prophecies which led the way to thee

,--Thiswasdoneinaccordancewiththeprophecieswhichhad gone before concerning him. Timothy had a spiritual gift im- parted to him by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (4:14.) Paul was doubtless of this presbytery. (2 Tim. 1:6.) that by them thou mayest war the good warfare;--Accord- ing to these prophecies, and through the spiritual gifts be- stowed when the prophecies were made, Timothy was to be enabled to war the good warfare for Christ. Paul seems to have been presenting his own sins, his trials, his joy in trials to Timothy, as a means of stirring him up to a true spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion to God. 19 holding faith and a good conscience;--As a means to this warfare, he was to hold faith and an abiding trust and confi- dence in God through Jesus Christ. The faith must be held in

1:19. 20.] FIRST

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135

thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith:20 of whom is Hy- menaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme.

a good conscience. Conscience is the faculty within man that demands he should do what he believes to be right. His con- science is good, clear, pure when he does what he believes to be right. He must do this to please God. Not to do what conscience demands is to hold the truth in unrighteousness. which some having thrust from them--This is to believe one thing and practice another. To do so is to act hypocriti- cally. made shipwreck concerning the faith:--Some had violated their consciences for wordly ends, and in this way had made shipwreck of their faith. Faith cannot live unless the soul obeys the conscience in doing the thing to which faith leads. Conscience demands that a person do the things which faith approves. "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren?" (James 2:20.) 20 of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander;--Among those who had put away from them a good conscience and had made shipwreck of their faith were Alexander and Hymen- aeus, thought to have been among the Judaizing teachers of Ephesus, who, from worldly motives, did violence to their con- sciences and, their faith miscarried, blasted all their hopes as when a ship driven by contrary winds is cast upon the break- ers and all perish. whom I delivered unto Satan,--This is generally supposed to mean he had excluded them from the church, but it has al- ways seemed to me to mean more than this. The church at Corinth was commanded to deliver the incestuous person to Satan. (1 Cor. 5:5.) Many of the early critics, and some of the later ones, James Macknight among them, hold that Satan inflicted bodily punishments in the days of the apostles. Sometimes they cast out demons and delivered from the afflic- tions of the body. That was to deliver from Satan. To deliver to Satan was to turn the person over to him that he might in- flict bodily disease or punishment upon him. If such was the case, it ceased with the age of miracles. During that age both God and Satan exerted wonderful working power. They both

136 COMMENTARY

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[1:20.

ceased at the same time. One used his power to bless, the other to afflict and punish. that they might be taught not to blaspheme.--The design was reformation that they might be taught not to blaspheme God, Christ, and his cause by their erroneous and unholy teaching. The discipline at Corinth appears to have proved successful in bringing good results. (2 Cor. 2:5-8.) In this case it seems to have been otherwise. (2 Tim. 2:1648.)

PART SECOND

FORMAL INSTRUCTIONS 2:1 to 6:2

SECTION ONE

GENERAL REGULATIONS OF CHURCH LIFE 2:1 to 3:16

1. THE PROPER SCOPE OF PUBLIC PRAYER

2:1-7

1 I exhort therefore, first of all, 9that supplications, prayers, intercessions,

9Gr. to make supplications &c.

1 I exhort therefore, first of all,--[Timothy was to begin at once to carry out the instruction given by Paul--the charge which bade him teach all men to put their whole trust in the Savior of sinners.] that supplications,--This word signifies requests for partic- ular benefits, and is a special form of the more general word rendered prayers. (Luke 1:13; Phil. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:3.) prayers,--Prayer is for direct and specific blessings as we need them. [Prayer is communion with God. It implies that God is a person able and willing to hear us, who has created the universe and still preserves and governs all his creatures and all their actions. He can produce results by controlling the laws of nature or cooperating with them as readily as a man can nay, more readily, for he is God. He can influence the hearts and minds of men more readily than even a man can induce his fellow men to action. He has had a plan from the beginning, and he accomplishes this plan both by the man- ner in which he established the universe and the laws which he set in operation, and also by his constant presence in the universe, upholding it and controlling it. And God requires prayer of all men. To pray to God implies a right relation to him. Acceptable prayer can be offered unto God by the righ-teousonly. Theprayerofthewickedisabominationunto him. (Prow. 15:29; 28:9.) Only those who have forsaken sin are authorized to draw nigh unto God in prayer.]

138 COMMENTARY

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[2:1, 2.

thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 who would

intercessions,--This word suggests a closer and more inti- mate communion with God on the part of the one praying. It speaks of drawing near to God, of entering into free, familiar speech with him. Prayer is its most individual, urgent form as in the case of Abraham for Sodom. (Gen. 18:24-32.) One of the most distinct examples of intercessory prayer is that of the Lord's intercession for Peter. (Luke 22:31-34.) thanksgivings,--Thanksgiving should never be absent from any of our devotions; we should never fail in any of our prayers to thank God for mercies received. be made for all men;--These prayers were to be offered for all men that God would bestow on them that which is for their good--bring them to honor and glorify God. 2 for kings and all that are in high place;--For kings as the supreme rulers of the country and for all them that are under the kings.

that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.--The end of the prayer was not that the kings and governments of the earth might be built up and strength- ened, but that these rulers might so conduct affairs that the people of God might lead a quiet and peaceable life, living a godly and earnest life in all things; that no hindrance might be thrown in the way of Christians living a godly and earnest life in all things, discharging all obligations to God and prac- ticing honesty toward all men. Similar instruction was given to the Jews who were carried away into captivity. "And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto Jehovah for it; for in the peace

thereof shall ye have peace." (Jer. 29:7.)

ing the wicked city of Babylon, which had carried them cap- tive, and which was doomed to destruction for their sins; yet for the sake of their own peace, they were exhorted to seek the peace of the city. This prayer for its peace does not in- volve support, active participation its affairs, or even approval of its course. This Epistle was written during the reign of the most wicked of the Roman rulers. It involves no question of

This was concern-

2:3-5.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

139

have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself , ChristtoJesus, beborne6whogavehimselfaransomforall;thetestimony

man

approval of them or of the course they may pursue. No mat- ter what the government, this prayer is proper.

3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Sa-

viour;--To please God is the highest motive that can influ- ence a Christian.

4 who would have all men to be saved,--God's good will to

all men is here expressed, and he desires that all should come

to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. and come to the knowledge of the truth.--There is no inti- mation that salvation is granted save through the knowledge of the truth. The truth was revealed by God to guide man into the way of salvation. Without God's direction man can never obtain remission of sins and eternal life.

5 For there is one God,--This is stated as a further reason

why Christians should pray for all men. Polytheists could not pray for all men because they would not pray for their en- emies. One who believed in the gods of Rome would not pray for the Carthaginians. In the very nature of things, a polytheist could not pray for all men. For the gods of one na- tion were regarded as enemies of another nation. Whether there was one God or many gods was the issue between Juda- ism and polytheism. It had required constant struggle, with many failures, to keep even the Jews from polytheism. But after the sore trials during the captivity in Babylon, they were soundly converted to the belief in one God. Whatever else may be said against them, it is evident that they were sound in the belief in one God--Jehovah. But while that is true , they did not believe he was the God of all men. All others they regarded as godless. It took Jesus Christ to teach them that Jehovah is the God of all men. Then the fact that there is one God who loves all constitutes the reason for those who love God to pray for all.

one mediator also between God and men,--As we have just seen, there is one God of all men, so also there is one media- tor, and only one, between God and all mankind. A mediator stands between parties who are at variance, who are so widely

140 COMMENTARY

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[2:5-7.

in its own times; 7 whereunto I was appointed a "preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

"1Gr. herald

separated that they can communicate only through an inter- mediary. himself man, Christ Jesus,--These words emphasize the na- ture in which Christ acts as mediator. It is in humanity the nature common to all men, and for that reason all who bear that nature are eligible to partnership in his mediation. (Heb. 2:6-18.) Herein we see how God dignifies man, since it is in humanity he performs his mediatorial work, and by thus ex- alting our nature has thus set before all human beings the possibility of attaining eternal life. [The statement that "there is one God, one mediator also between God and men ,himselfman,ChristJesus"isinthepresenttensewhenPaul wrote. He was still a man. He did not leave his humanity behind when he went up on high. As he did not leave his Godhood above when he came down to earth and became a man, so he did not leave his manhood on earth when he as- cended to heaven. In heaven today the "man, Christ Jesus" officiates as mediator on our behalf. Realizing this, let us re- joice and give renewed diligence to make our calling and elec- tion sure.]

6 who gave himself a ransom for all;--Ransom is the price

paid for the redemption of a captive. Man had through sin sold himself a captive to the evil one. Jesus became mortal

, shedhisblood, anddiedtoredeemmanfromthethraldomof sin and the bondage of the grave. He died as "the lamb that bath been slain." (Rev. 13:8.)

the testimony to be borne in its own times;--Jesus Christ was to be manifested in the last days of the Mosaic dispensa- tion or testified in due time when the Lord should appoint. He came to die and rescue man at the time appointed by God.

7 whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle

--Theword"preacher"herecarriesthemeaningofanoriginal herald or proclaimer rather than one who teaches an old truth. The apostles of Christ were those sent and authorized to speak in his name, which authority was attested by the power to work miracles.

2:7, 8.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

141

(I speak the truth, I lie not),--In parentheses he emphasizes that he speaks the truth in Christ and does not lie. This is said in response to the teaching of the Judaizers who called in question his claims to be an apostle. [These words were ut- tered in view of the surpassing magnitude of the message with which he was charged--solely to bear a weighty and im- posing testimony to the truth of his assertion, which so many were ready and eager to dispute--the assertion that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of glad tidings was an offer of salvation, not to a people, but to the whole world.] a teacher of the Gentiles--This specifies the especial duties of Paul's apostleship with reference to the peculiar fitness which marked him out as the proclaimer of the divine will in respect to this gracious offer of redemption to the Gentiles. in faith--Paul's own faith in Jesus Christ--the grand mo- tive power of his life and work. and truth.--[This refers to the well-known facts of the gos- pel story. Paul carried on his ceaseless labors, within gather- ing fresh and ever fresh strength from the exhaustless spring of his own mighty faith in Jesus Christ.]

2. THE POSITION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN PUBLIC PRAYER

2:8-15

8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and "disputing. 9 In like manner, that women adorn

"Or, doubting

8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place,--Be- cause he was an apostle to the Gentiles, he declares his wish that in every place, not at Jewish altars only, but that the Gentiles as well as Jews should pray. lifting up holy hands,--Those leading the prayer did so with outstretched hands. They must be men whose hands were holy--unstained with wrong. [This is a figure for up- rightness and purity of life. (Job 17:9; Psalm 24:4; James 4:8.) The church is "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession" (1 Pet. 2:9), and no man should attempt to exercise this priestly function whose life and character is not that of an earnest and conse- crated Christian.]

142 COMMENTARY

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[2:8-10.

themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety: not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 11 Let a woman learn in

without wrath and disputing.--Without animosity or bitter- ness toward other nations or people and without disputing over questions the Holy Spirit has not decided. [These angry feelings can have no place in the heart of one who really prays whether in public or in private.] 9 In like manner, that women--He had laid down rules for the men in the public worship; he now gives rules for the women in the congregation who had duties as well as the men. adorn themselves in modest apparel,--[Their place in public worship was one of quiet attention. Their reverence and ado- ration must be shown not by thrusting themselves forward with a view to public teaching or public praying, but by being present and taking part silently, avoiding especially in these services anything like conspicuous dress or showy ornaments --anything, in fact, which would be likely to arouse attention or distract the thoughts of others.] with shamefastness--That which shrinks from overpassing the limits of womanly reserve and modesty as well as dis- honor of which would justly attach thereto. [That habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the pas- sions and desires which would hinder the temptation to this from arising or, at all events, from arising in such strength as to overcome the hindrances which shamefastness oppose to it.] and sobriety;--The well-balanced state of mind arising from habitual self-restraint. not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment --[The reference is to the then common fashionable custom of interweaving gold, silver, and pearls in the hair, causing it to glisten in the light. Gold or pearls refer to the bracelets , necklaces, anklets, rings and chains, and such things with which women were often laden. The Jews denounced such extravagant ornamentation. (Isa. 3:16-23)] 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works.--To follow both these negative and pos- itive requirements is church work because it is the work of Christ and must be observed by women if they be faithful

2:10-12.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

143

quietness with all subjection. 12 But I permit not a woman to teach nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13 For Adam was first

members of the church. The works a widow must have done to entitle her to the support of the church are: "If she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers , if she hath washed the saints' feet, if she hath relieved the af- flicted, if she hath diligently followed every good I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear chil- dren, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling." (1 Tim. 5:10-14.) That is church work. The church has no more important work than bearing children and training them for service to God. Women must do that work. Paul instructs Titus to teach sound doctrine. "That aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Tit. 2:3-5.) A Chris- tian woman is doing church work when she keeps her house well. The word of God is blasphemed when she does not do so, when she fails to love and honor her husband and fails to love her children and train them in the nurture and admoni- tion of the Lord.

11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.--The

position of women in public worship is that of a quiet learner in manner and in act, yielding submission in all lawful respects to the position God had placed man as leader of the

worship in the public assembly of the church. This is given as the rule "in all the churches of the saints." (1 Cor. 14:33

,34.

12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have domin-

ion over a man, but to be in quietness.--The point guarded against here is woman's assuming authority over man. It is not wrong for her to teach the word of God, but wrong for her to teach it in a way that assumes authority or superiority over man. (Tit. 2:5.) This is the only reason given in the Scrip-

tures why it is wrong.

144 COMMENTARY ON [2:13-15.

formed, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being be- guiled bath fallen into transgression:15 but she shall be saved through "her childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.

"Or, the childbearing.

Comp. Gal. 4. 4

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve;--The reasons for

this teaching are here given, which show the reach or extent or the principles. Adam had priority in creation. He was the original human being. Eve was from him and subordinate to him, and was formed a help suited to him. The argument here based on priority of creation is much strengthened by the following statement: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man." (1 Cor. 11:9.) This teaching of Paul respecting the public position of woman as regards man

, inwhichheshowsthat sheistoholdasubordinateplace, is

based upon no arbitrary human speculation, but upon God's original order in creation--that divine order which first

created man and after man's creation formed woman as his helpmeet.

14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being be-

guiled, hath fallen into transgression:--Priority in creation was the ground alleged by Paul as the reason why the woman was never to exercise authority over man. Paul now refers to the general basis of his instruction concerning the exclusion of woman from all public praying and teaching contained in the preceding verses, Adam and Eve both sinned, but Adam was not beguiled. He followed Eve into sin with his eyes open. Eve, on the other hand, was thoroughly deceived. She fell into Satan's deceit. Both were involved in the sin, but only Eve allowed herself to be deluded. It would be difficult to find a more vivid illustration of the essential difference between the masculine and feminine nature. If there be this distinc- tion between the sexes, that distinction furnishes the basis of an argument and a reason for the instruction here given. The catastrophe of Eden is the beacon for all generations when the sexes repeat the folly of Eve and Adam, and exchange their distinctive position and functions. So, according to inspired teaching, she is not to be the leader, but to be in subjection.

15 but she shall be saved through her child-bearing,--Child- bearing here embraces not only the act of childbearing, but

2:15.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

145

the life of caring and training children that the bringing of them into the world necessitates. This domestic life of child rearing is placed in contrast with the forward public life in which she had blundered, and she is told that in this quiet life women shall be saved. if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with so- briety.--If they continue in faith in God and love to humanity and holiness of life, coupled with a modest, retiring behavior. Sometimes women and men, too, think this is assigning women to an inferior position. Inferior in the sense that she is not by nature, physically or morally, suited to public posi- tions or to counteract the rougher elements of the world. But she is of finer texture physically and morally than man, and is better fitted (superior to man) for work of nursing, training children, and keeping home attractive and cheerful. She is the trainer of children and the companion of man in the home , becomestheconservatorofvirtue, morality, andreligionand of all the purifying and elevating influences shed by them. No more sacred and no higher office did God ever lay on mor- tals than that he has laid on woman--to bear and train chil- dren and subjects for his everlasting kingdom. The woman who neglects the duties she owes her children and her home for the public life that God has created for man leaves her work, her character, and her mission.

3. QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS* AND DEACONS

3:1-13

Timothy was to take the place of Paul the apostle in teach- ing, instructing, and guiding the churches in perfecting them- selves, and in doing the work for which they were planted. The bishops or overseers were to do the work which their names indicated. Bishop or overseer was the name applied in Greek and Roman countries to the same work or office indi- cated among the Jews by the words elders or presbyters. They were to take the oversight of the congregations and teach, guide, and direct all the performances of the duties that fell to them. He here speaks of the importance and sanctity

* For discussion on appointment of elders and their duties, see appendix on page 305.

146 COMMENTARY

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[3:1, 2.

113Faithful isthesaying, If amanseekeththeofficeof a14bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 The 14bishop therefore must be without reproach , the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospital- ity, apt toteach; 315nobrawler, nostriker; but gentle, not contentious, no

13Some connect the words Faithful is the saying with the preceding paragraph 14Or, overseer 15Or, not quarrelsome over wine

of the work and character of the persons fitted to perform the work. 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.--This saying would indicate that the work had been so highly esteemed that it had already grown into a saying, "The man who desired the overseeing desired a good work." No more important and no better work exists among the people of God. Paul instructed to "take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28.) 2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach,--The eld- ers and deacons must be men whose character is unimpeacha- ble, who stand high in public estimation, known for their pure life and spotless integrity. Not only must the believers rever- ence the character of the elders and deacons of a congrega- tion, but those not members. In other words, they should be men of unimpeachable character.

the husband of one wife,--Paul, seemingly at least, required the bishop to have a wife. He at all events encouraged it. In later years the idea grew up that there was more holiness in celibacy, and the Roman Catholic Church forbids its bishops to marry. When Paul required they forbid. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that there is more holiness in the unmarried state than in the married. [All the directions concerning mar- riage in the New Testament are based on the idea of the union of one man to one woman.]

temperate,--Watchful over himself in restraining the appe- tites and passions, using all in moderation so as to blend all the faculties to the highest degree of activity.

sober-minded,--Not excitable or passionate, but self-re- strained. (Having or proceeding from a realization of the im- portance and earnestness of life; not flighty or flippant.]

3:2-4.] FIRST

TIMOTHY

147

lover of money; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 not a novice,

orderly,-- Of good behavior, kind, considerate, and orderly in deportment. [Not only must he be wise and self-restrained in himself, but his outward bearing must in all respects corre- spond to his inner life.] given to hospitality,--Entertaining strangers is frequently impressed as a Christian virtue. The elders should possess all Christian virtues in a high degree so he will be an example to the flock--teach by example as well as by precept. apt to teach;--His work is to teach and lead others in the right way. In order to do this he must know the truth, then by kind and faithful example lead the flock in the way the Lord would have it go. It is very important that elders should have aptitude for teaching privately as well as pub- licly. (2 Tim. 2:24-26.) It requires patience and persever- ence in teaching others who are out of the way.

3 no brawler,--[The margin says "not quarrelsome over

wine."] No more dangerous and hurtful practice is known to man than the use of strong drink. An elder must set a good example in all things. no striker;--Ungoverned in temper, ready to resent insult or wrong, real or imaginary, quarrelsome, or ready to fight.

but gentle;--Not bitter and impatient, but kind in manners even to the froward and unpleasant. not contentious,--This does not mean that one is not to stand and contend for the truth, but many are ready to con- tend over unimportant matters. Such always live in foment and strife. Even truth and right should not be maintained in a contentious spirit. no lover of money;--not willing to use wrong means to ob- tain money, not anxious for sudden riches.

4 one that ruleth well his own house,--He who knows how

to train children and lead them in the right way--in a kind and gentle manner so as to make worthy men and women of them--exercising the qualities given here for the bishop. The

148 COMMENTARY

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[3:4-7.

lest being puffed up he fall into the 1condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into